Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Bast
Question: do we really need fear given the world today? Or is fear over-rated?

Cooch
Well, fear is a basic part of our makeup and our motivation as humans. And the world out there should be scary enough to meet our need to be scared. But in fact we avoid the scariness of the world and instead we scare ourselves with Stephen King stories. Is that what you mean?


Bast
Yes, and then people retreat and retrench into their own echo chambers. A perfect example of that is Trump.

Cooch
I read (in Being Wrong by Katherine Sachs) this whole line of thinking about how being afraid that we are wrong makes us vehement in our beliefs even when they have been proven wrong … thus things like the flat earth movement happen.

Cooch
And then avoiding the fact that we are afraid deepens our entrenchment, which in turn scares those of us who would rather wrestle with our fears than avoid them.

Bast
Fear is a powerful motivator. That’s the premise behind A Course in Miracles. There are two basic feelings – love and fear, and we need to focus more on love.

Bast
But it comes from our fish brain – fight, flight or freeze. I’m a freezer. Cuz I always need to try and think it out.

Cooch
I’m trying to dial in to my fish brain to figure out my default response, and I’m not sure what it is … So, moving on … Hallowe’en: is it an attempt to avoid facing the reality of death by substituting an artificial fear of gore and zombies?

Bast
I actually think we need to be scared because we’re hard-wired to be scared. But our everyday lives are just not that scary anymore. The fear is more abstract now.

Cooch
Ahhhh, abstract fear. So humans are hard-wired for fear because it helps us survive, but we have evolved into a society which does a good job of handling most physical threats to humans and therefore our fear radars look elsewhere for stimulation – and now we are transitioning to a world where we once again face survival issues (climate change, viruses, water shortage) and our radars are now confused between real threats and artificial ones. So we’re having a hard time focusing on solutions to real threats.

Bast
Yup. Add to that that some of us are scared by some things, others by others. So in the past we were ALL scared by a tiger on the loose, now some of us are afraid of people who are not like us, changes in climates, loss of status and wealth, etc. It got very messy when our physical safety got much better.

Bast
Now some of us miss the adrenalin rush you get by being scared. Hence ghosties, ghoulies, roller coasters, extreme sports, etc. It’s only been a very short while in our evolution that our physical safety is not paramount on a daily basis.

Cooch
So how do we fine-tune our threat sensors so we can deal with the real world?

Bast
Maybe we create a Fear Index? Figure out what people actually fear?

Cooch
It might be a way of drawing people together – and maybe addressing some mental health issues too.

Bast
Well it could be. It could also act as a way to decrease peoples’ fears with facts. Or it might work the opposite way. The more people know, the more scared they’ll get.

Cooch
At least we would be scared about the right things.

Cooch
Speaking of which, “spiters” might in fact warrant more caution than “spiders”. Spiters do mean things intentionally to hurt others. Spiders don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. Literally.

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