Bioethics Blogs

Web Roundup: Happy Halloween! by Maria Cecilia Dedios

It is Halloween again! This month’s web-roundup looks at fear and creepiness, why we feel them and, even more interesting, why we enjoy them.

Our brains are hardwired to feel fear, but it is nice to remember that we are hardly alone in this. We know that crows are very intelligent (and creepy!) animals, but thanks to a new study we now know that they feel fear and that they can learn from the death of other crows. Whenever one of their own dies, crows try to find out if there is a threat where the death occurred. If there is one, they will not only remember it for a long period of time (even if it is a human face!) but will also avoid it, and cry out to other crows to alert them about the danger.

As humans, we not only get scared but some things “creep us out”. But what is creepiness? Well, whenever we identify a dangerous situation, we get scared. But it seems that when we can’t tell for sure if we are in danger or not, we feel creeped out instead. In everyday life, people find it creepy when they are not able to predict how someone else will behave. This may explain why people who display unusual non-verbal behaviors or emotional reactions (think someone laughing at unpredictable times) make us uncomfortable.

Fear, creepiness, and death have fueled human imagining since ancient times. And this month, the web provided a great reminder of just how diverse we are when it comes to dealing with these in society.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.