Fox News: How Fear Makes You Stupid

Fox news
The Sky is Falling! We’re All Gonna Die!

Let’s say a huge angry bull escapes from the livestock auction and blasts into your backyard-(this actually happened to me when I lived on a farm.) It is quite appropriate to stop contemplating Plato’s Republic, scoop up the kids and dash for the safety of the house.

The fight-or-flight system kicks in; digestion halts, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure go up and blood is diverted to large muscles. All thought is directed toward survival. This is all natural and good and has saved our ancestors from many a saber-toothed tiger.

But saber-toothed tigers are extinct and bulls seldom invade our backyards. Still the fight-or-flight system carries on, whether the threat is real or not. For example, if I carry a box to the front of an auditorium, reach in and pull out a rattlesnake, then throw it toward the crowd, screaming and panic will ensue. Even if it is a plastic snake.

Modern humans are just as easy to terrify as our ancestors were, though the real threats are far fewer. Read Dr. Robert Saplosky’s Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers for how constant fear affects our health.  But what if you want people not to think? What if you want to scare the crap out of them and point to an enemy you want demonized? It’s very easy and has been pulled off by politicians and news media with political agendas.

Like all human characteristics, the ability to scare the shite out of an individual varies along a continuum. Some are nearly immune to fear and they would not have survived Saber-Toothed Tiger Land. Some are easy to scare and even phony threats work; they either run to a hole and turn around snarling (these have survival bunkers with weapons arsenals) or stand and fight back. They think of them selves as heroic. They are bravely fighting on principle! The fact that there is no actual threat, that the rattlesnake is made of rubber, does not matter, because they cannot THINK. (Remember Death Panels!)

All kinds of people are needed for a healthy society. Some progressive ones to come up with new ideas for changing times and some conservative ones to remind them that things have worked pretty well in the past and maybe this change is a bad idea. They should talk about it. This has not been happening in America due to manipulation by groups with power agendas. They don’t want citizens to think or talk to each other.

Painting below from The Magic Barn by Je’ Czaja

Attack of the Poultry
Attack of the Poultry

I often wonder how I turned out to be a progressive? Whatever? while my brothers, raised in the same family and location are very conservative? Right-wing? We are equally smart and equally decent folks. But we are not equally easy to frighten.

One afternoon when I was in middle school and my younger brother was in fourth grade, I was brushing my horse when he was attacked by our dozen geese. The geese flapped their wings and hissed as they rushed him. Poor little brother fell down in his panic and the geese pounced on him. “Just kick them,” I yelled nonchalantly, “They’re bluffing.” But he was totally terrified and screaming on the ground, so I ran down the hill and kicked the geese away. I counseled him to yell and wave his arms at the geese in the future and rush toward THEM. They would flee in a very satisfying manner. Geese don’t have teeth, for crying out loud-they are not an existential threat.

So this time the progressive was right. On other occasions the progressive was wrong, like the time my brother said we should not climb on the tractor shed roof and I ended up trapped on a roof attacked by hornets, or the time I decided it would be nifty to capture a 100 pound snapping turtle with my bare hands.

So the big difference is: my brothers are more cautious and I am more adventurous and apt to say “BS” when someone tries to scare me. The real villains here are those who USE a natural condition to divide and conquer, to promote fear and cancel thought. This does great harm to all of us.

The fear-mongers them selves are the real threat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s