18 Stories

Here's What Americans Fear the Most

'Corrupt politicians' continues to top the list

(Newser) - Bad news, creepy clowns. You don't even crack the top 10 of Americans' top fears. Chapman University has released its third annual Survey of American Fears, and for the second year in a row, "corruption of government officials" takes the top spot, USA Today reports. Other than that,... More »

The Thing That Americans Fear Most

It involves the government

(Newser) - "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"—well, that and almost 90 other things. California's Chapman University last week came out with its second annual Survey of American Fears. The 1,541 adults who were polled were asked about 89 (by our count) fears... More »

Fruit Flies May Experience Fear: Study

Whether they experience it the way we do remains unclear

(Newser) - Does the tiny-brained fruit fly experience emotions like fear? New research published in the journal Current Biology suggests that the insects at the very least enter a fear-like state, demonstrating all of the so-called emotion primitives associated with fear—including persistence (the response continues after the threat has passed, such... More »

It's OK to Be a Wimp —as Long as You Stay a Wimp

Brave or frightened, aphids do better when they're consistent

(Newser) - If a new study of the natural world is any indicator, it may be OK to flee at the sight of danger—just make sure you do it every time. Researchers investigated the reactions of aphids when they were approached by ladybug predators, evaluating the results in terms of "... More »

Boy's Very Rare Condition: Fear of Aging

Report: When he was 11, the boy ate less to stop growing, and lost 26 pounds

(Newser) - A 14-year-old boy in Mexico is possibly the first reported child in the world to have been diagnosed with gerascophobia, or an extreme fear of aging. His condition, described in Case Reports in Psychiatry in December and spotted by LiveScience , began two and a half years ago. It involves such... More »

Inside the Rare Case of the Woman Who Has No Fear

SM has been studied since the '90s

(Newser) - Would it be like to live a life completely void of fear? NPR's Invisibilia tackled that question in its second episode by talking to Antonio Damasio, a University of Southern California neuroscientist who has treated a woman—referred to as SM—with an inability to feel fear. SM suffers... More »

Look Out! Threats From Left Are More Menacing

Studies show people worry less about things on their right

(Newser) - Don't look now—especially to your left, because that's where things seem scarier. So say University of Utah researchers who found that people reacted with greater alarm when faced with tornadoes, traffic, dog poop, and homeless people appearing on their left. Here are examples of their still-unpublished studies,... More »

Parents May Pass Memories to Their Kids

Learned fears can continue through generations: mouse study

(Newser) - It may be possible to learn your parents' fears—without ever experiencing the relevant threat. Researchers taught mice to fear a cherry blossom smell, then looked at the creatures' sperm. A portion of DNA tied to the scent was particularly active, and two generations of descendants were found to be... More »

25 Strange Phobias of the Stars

House plants and butterflies and mirrors, oh my!

(Newser) - Everyone understands arachnophobia. But what about swinophobia—the fear of pigs? It's just one of the 25 strange celebrity fears rounded up by the Huffington Post :
  • Katie Holmes: Scared of raccoons.
  • Tyra Banks: Afraid of dolphins.
  • Orlando Bloom: Yep, he's the swinophobe.
  • Woody Allen: One of his many
... More »

What Scares Even the Medically Fearless

Suffocation ignites different form of fear: study

(Newser) - A much-studied woman was thought to be fearless—literally unable to experience the emotion after having part of her brain, the amygdala , damaged. Nothing from snakes to assaults could scare the woman, dubbed SM, until, in a recent study, she was faced with the feeling of suffocation. That prompted a... More »

Shot to Brain Could Calm Fears

At least it does in goldfish in Japanese study

(Newser) - A study on goldfish has yielded hope for a temporary fix for humans paralyzed by fear, Japanese scientists say. They injected anesthetic directly into the fishes’ brains—which are similar to many mammals’—and thus switched off its fear center. The news could mean temporary calm for those afraid... More »

Scientists Think Injection Could 'Cure' Fear

Maybe some lidocaine in the cerebellum can erase phobias

(Newser) - A team of Japanese researchers say they’ve found evidence that a simple injection could turn off the brain’s ability to become afraid, or even reprogram it to eliminate certain phobias. The scientists say that since fear is a learned reaction, they should be able to find the part... More »

Fear, Not Fraud, May Have Won Iranian Election

(Newser) - A pre-election poll of Iranian voters favoring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been held up as proof that the election was fair. Not so, writes Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight.com. The poll, conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow, found that 33.8% of respondents intended to vote for Ahmadinejad, versus 13.6% for... More »

Pentagon 'Photo Op' Flyover Rattles NYC

Air Force One backup planes flies low around Statue of Liberty

(Newser) - A photo op by the Defense Department caused buildings in lower Manhattan and New Jersey to be evacuated this morning, the New York Times reports. A backup for Air Force One flew low over Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty accompanied by two fighter jets. The deployment was coordinated with... More »

Summers: Stimulus Is Starting to Work

(Newser) - Larry Summers sounded a note of cautious optimism today about President Obama's stimulus plan, the Washington Post reports. While it's way too early to assess its "broader economic impact," Obama's chief economic adviser called it "moderately encouraging" that consumer spending appears to be back on track. More »

It's Friday the 13th: What Do Celebs Fear?

Some fears normal; others just weird

(Newser) - Friday the 13th is a good time to delve into the scary world of celebrity fears—and they run the gamut from the average (Johnny Depp is afraid of clowns) to the bizarre (Roseanne fears letting anyone touch her toes). More from the list, compiled by New York Post columnist... More »

Humans Wired to Fear Snakes

Scientists find innate ability to discern slithering critters in the wild

(Newser) - Evolution seems to have given humans a hard-wired ability to recognize snakes and spiders, LiveScience reports. Intrigued by the widespread fear of serpents despite the fact that most humans rarely interact with them, researchers showed groups of adults and 3-year-olds natural scenes containing various hidden animals. Both groups were consistently... More »

Genes Make Mouse That Roared

Genetically altered Mickey has no fear of cats

(Newser) - Japanese scientists have modified mouse genes to make rodents unafraid of cats in a dramatic experiment that offers insight into the origins of terror. The breakthrough shows that fear is largely genetically hardwired rather than learned through painful experience, researchers say. Some of the mice, whose nasal cells were altered... More »

18 Stories