Escapist Podcast - Science and Tech: 013: Why Are We Terrified of Disgusting Insects?

013: Why Are We Terrified of Disgusting Insects?

In this episode of The Escapist's Science and Tech podcast, host CJ Miozzi and Escapist writers talk about recent headlines in the world of science and technology: seeing warzones from space, the technologies and policies of microtransaction games, and why we have phobias.

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Great discussion!

As someone who has always been interested in evolutionary science, I'm surprised I've never thought of the evolutionary explanation for my particular aversion to creepy-crawlies. Although the traumatic childhood experience theory might also be valid in my case (caught a bit of a movie on TV about killer bugs when I was young).

I found your mention of moose as a phobia amusing. If you live in Newfoundland (like I do), then a fear of moose may be perfectly rational. Moose are responsible for numerous deaths/injuries per year on the island. Though if you're picturing a rampaging killer moose right now, you should know that most (if not all) of those deaths/injuries were from highway vehicle accidents. Moose just love to cross the road when there's low visibility. Always gotta keep your eyes peeled driving on the highway after dark.

Impossibilium:
Great discussion!

As someone who has always been interested in evolutionary science, I'm surprised I've never thought of the evolutionary explanation for my particular aversion to creepy-crawlies. Although the traumatic childhood experience theory might also be valid in my case (caught a bit of a movie on TV about killer bugs when I was young).

I found your mention of moose as a phobia amusing. If you live in Newfoundland (like I do), then a fear of moose may be perfectly rational. Moose are responsible for numerous deaths/injuries per year on the island. Though if you're picturing a rampaging killer moose right now, you should know that most (if not all) of those deaths/injuries were from highway vehicle accidents. Moose just love to cross the road when there's low visibility. Always gotta keep your eyes peeled driving on the highway after dark.

Thanks!

Re. the moose, I was about to bring up the road laws regarding what to do when you see an animal on the road. Normally, it is safest to run over the animal, but I recall that not being the case for a certain animal -- either the moose, or a similar animal. I believe the rule with that animal is, "if it's in front of you, you're f***ed whatever you do."

Rhykker:

Impossibilium:
Great discussion!

As someone who has always been interested in evolutionary science, I'm surprised I've never thought of the evolutionary explanation for my particular aversion to creepy-crawlies. Although the traumatic childhood experience theory might also be valid in my case (caught a bit of a movie on TV about killer bugs when I was young).

I found your mention of moose as a phobia amusing. If you live in Newfoundland (like I do), then a fear of moose may be perfectly rational. Moose are responsible for numerous deaths/injuries per year on the island. Though if you're picturing a rampaging killer moose right now, you should know that most (if not all) of those deaths/injuries were from highway vehicle accidents. Moose just love to cross the road when there's low visibility. Always gotta keep your eyes peeled driving on the highway after dark.

Thanks!

Re. the moose, I was about to bring up the road laws regarding what to do when you see an animal on the road. Normally, it is safest to run over the animal, but I recall that not being the case for a certain animal -- either the moose, or a similar animal. I believe the rule with that animal is, "if it's in front of you, you're f***ed whatever you do."

Yeah, when there's a 1000lb creature on the road and you don't see it, you are truly and royally screwed. Reducing your speed, or just avoiding the highway at night altogether, is your only defence. I've come across moose on the road several times, and the only thing you can do is stop and wait for it to get out of the way. Even that doesn't work all the time. I believe I had a relative of mine had a moose accident where he didn't even hit the moose, but the moose was in the middle of crossing the road, saw his car, and decided to try and jump over it. The whole roof of the car was crushed, my relative only survived by ducking down just in time to have enough space under the dash. Scary stuff.

LOL, "A sad reminder of our effect on this planet." Human arrogance never ceases to amaze. Humans are mere ants in the grand scheme of things and though we like to marvel at our "great power" to shape the world it amounts to little more than an anthill does in your backyard. Nature can easily come along and wash it all away the same as you would using a hose on the anthill in your backyard. Just look at the Tsunamis in recent years.

There are several super volcano, including Yellow Stone, which could erupt and send humanity back into the stone age or flat out cause its extension. A meteor, like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, could wipe out most to all life on the planet and there is nothing to stop it, besides some theoretical ideas which have extremely low chances of success. There have been several mass extinction events in earth's history and over 99% of species that have ever lived on earth are extinct. Nature is far more powerful and crueler than humanity and yet people continue to act as if they have some larger impact on the whole of the planet.

The only real power humans have ever had is if they want to make the world one where people live and work together in peace or one where people fight over who gets to push other people around. Because in the end that's all we will have done right up to the point where nature kicks us to the curb like the dinosaurs, and it's only human arrogance and pride that makes us think it won't happen.

[Edit]So I originally wrote this post on my iPhone, on the train, which I realize is not the most ideal environment, especially when it comes to editing.

Ok so my idea about fear of bugs: evolutionary speaking we've developed no good defense against insects. We have no immunity to various venom's, and we are covered in soft permeable skin that gives off an attractive smell for insects. Insects have faster reflexes then we do, and travel hordes by comparison to us. They circumvent and sometimes even consume our shelters, they are awake all times of day and they can easily evade our reach. I believe instinctually we panic because all out other defenses, including the use of most tools. If you think of the other example mentioned on. The pod cast, if you were confronted with a swarm of bees, and those bees were determined to attack you, how would you fight them? You can run from a bear or punch it or stab it and be confident that you may not miss but if you ever tried to kill one of those silver dollar centipedes it's shocking how fast those things are.

Kameburger:
[Edit]So I originally wrote this post on my iPhone, on the train, which I realize is not the most ideal environment, especially when it comes to editing.

Ok so my idea about fear of bugs: evolutionary speaking we've developed no good defense against insects. We have no immunity to various venom's, and we are covered in soft permeable skin that gives off an attractive smell for insects. Insects have faster reflexes then we do, and travel hordes by comparison to us. They circumvent and sometimes even consume our shelters, they are awake all times of day and they can easily evade our reach. I believe instinctually we panic because all out other defenses, including the use of most tools. If you think of the other example mentioned on. The pod cast, if you were confronted with a swarm of bees, and those bees were determined to attack you, how would you fight them? You can run from a bear or punch it or stab it and be confident that you may not miss but if you ever tried to kill one of those silver dollar centipedes it's shocking how fast those things are.

That's a great point! I think the swarming nature of insects is all terrifying. You can kill one, you can kill dozens... but you cannot stop the swarm.

 

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