Afternoon Inquisition, 10.31

Happy Halloween everyone!  Here’s a question appropriate to the holiday:

What *really* scares you?

And before we get a slew of comments saying “President Sarah Palin,” I know, I know :)  What else though? :)


P.S. Don’t forget to set your clocks back this weekend!  Enjoy that extra hour of partying!


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. David Eddings has a great quote in one of his books about fear. To paraphrase: a common man is afraid of everything. He’s afraid when it rains. He’s afraid when it doesn’t rain. he’s afraid of people who are stronger than he is. he’s afraid of the powerful. He’s afraid of hunger. After a while, he gets used to the fear. It becomes like an old friend…It helps to laugh sometimes.

    That’s me. I’m afraid of so many things that fear has lost its meaning.

  2. * Ironically, I hate heights and I’m a pilot/aviation nut. I can’t look down from a tall building or tower without feeling a little queasy and nervous. But I can look down out of an airplane doing steep turns all day, especially if I’m the pilot. Go figure.

    *Sharks. Damned if I know why, since I’m from WI. I don’t think anyone’s seen a shark in Lake Michigan… :-D

    *Stupid people in large groups.

    *All government/political power. I fear anyone that has lots of power – it tends to corrupt.

  3. Leeches.

    I grew up in bayou country, so I have over the years learned all the finer points of avoiding leeches. Warm, murky, stagnant water? Leeches. Overgrown ditch of muck? Leeches. Shallow lake water? Leeches. So I was beyond mortified to learn that in Japan, they have land leeches. Land leeches! Leeches that crawl around on the freaking land, no water required! Oh my god. Too much. I gotta go take a shower.

  4. @Elyse: HAHAHA! WONDERFUL, you confused the heck out of me.

    And as for what I’m afraid of:

    – Bees
    – Social interaction
    – Changes
    – More bees
    – Tornadoes
    – Making the wrong choice
    – Dogs with bees in their mouths, so that when they bark they shoot bees at you
    – Attractive women
    – Willful, intentional ignorance.
    – Any bees I may have left out before

  5. Clowns… Jesus H Christ, what is it about those hell-spawn joy-mongers that sets my teeth on edge and sends me clawing for the nearest escape route and/or fire axe???

    Clowns eat puppies you know! That’s how they get their POWER.

  6. I know it sounds overly simplistic… but the dark scares me.

    I think it is a combo of the “fear of the unknown” and also the fear of blindness.


  7. Spiders. I’ve held a tarantula a couple of times, though — it was very docile, so I felt okay with it. It’s the surprise that bothers me the most.

  8. Creationism, not because of any validity, but because our agricultural system relies on evolutionary science.

  9. Hannibal Lector. Not the murderer and cannibal part, but the disconnect between what I expect people and reality to be, and what he is… something I cannot hope to understand or even attempt to change, but something that (in my worst nightmare) can affect me and I am entirely helpless to stop, understand, communicate, or connect to in any way.

    See also: radical fundamentalists, hardcore slash fans, and over-the-cliff politicians.

    Thanks for letting me lurk around here, folks!

  10. I thought we had one less hour to party this weekend??

    The combination of ignorance, poverty and loss of social constraint cause me fear.

  11. My kids : eventually they’re going to figure out that they’re smarter than me. If they haven’t done so already …

    Oh crap.

  12. -Low information voters
    -Rejection (which is why, despite knowing better, I hardly post comments here)
    -Zombies (though my plan for the coming zompocalyse is really starting to come together)

  13. Um, being attacked/raped in my own home or while walking in the city is pretty high up there. It wasn’t so much ’til we had the Baseline Rapist/Killer (I live in Phoenix and he hit REALLY close to home). Uuuumm… Falling down stairs. I hate stairs.

  14. The thing that scares me most is that nothing seems to scare me. Luckily, I’m too lazy to actually try anything dangerous.

    “It’s just I’m feeling invincible, and it has me terrified.”- Blues Traveler

  15. There are only three things that I fear.

    The abuse of power.

    Animals that are larger than I.

    And carnies. Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands.”

  16. Next Tuesday has the potential to be the most terrifying thing ever.

    I can just see it now. “Widespread voting machine malfunction causes constitutional amendment and Bush reelection. Pundits stunned.”

  17. I’m glad to see multiple clown-haters on here. The rest of you probably pal around with clowns, or are at the very least clown sympathizers. You should all be ashamed!

  18. Hippies.

    But seriously, similarly to Expatria, Social Interactions are certainly high on my list, Sharks are very, very low, Bat Sh*t crazy religious fundamentalists are an absolutely horrifying concept, I am also terrified of crappy yet catchy pop music. It gets stuck in your head and you find yourself singing it even though the song is absolute garbage and you wished it would just fall down a large hole and die.

  19. @JRice: No way! Mimes are just clown shock troops!!! They are the quiet ones, you know? Can sneak in while you sleep and you’d never know it. Then, once they’ve got you trapped in your invisible box, the real clown comes in and eats your face.

    It happened to my sister’s cousin’s best friend Tracy.

  20. @Detroitus: You have much to learn about mimes. Mimes and Clowns have been mortal enemies for millennia. You know, like orcs and elves, or ninjas and… uhh… living things.

    In fact, I’d say the only thing clowns hate more than mimes is flowers that don’t squirt. Or maybe really serious politicians. And goggles. …Sounds weird, I know, but clowns do hate goggles.

    Being chased by a mob of well-armed clowns? Point in the other direction and shout “Is that a mime?” …It will give you at least another twelve seconds of running time.

  21. @JRice: I see you have fallen victim of the great clown/mime conspiracy. They want you to think they are enemies, while in facat, they have been cahooting for centuries!

    Do some research. The Brotherhood of the Painted Face is a real thing! You won’t hear about it from mainstream media, but it’s out there. I saw this great internet documentary on it…

  22. That my degree will be completely and utterly useless and I’ll end up in another soul destroying office job.

  23. spiders don’t scare me
    bees don’t scare me, i love sitting next to them and watching them
    wasps sometimes do, depends on my mood

    cock roaches scare the hell outta me. Every other creature on Earth would see something a thousand times bigger than them and run in the opposite direction. What do roaches do? Run straight for you. It’s like they know something.

    That and i’m terrified of getting lost. I need a map pretty much everywhere i go.

  24. Having my blood drawn.

    I was a cop in Phoenix for 22 years and I have been shot, shot at, stabbed, and held down while someone tried to pop my eyes out with his index fingers. I came through it all with no bad side effects or lasting injuries and kinda considered it all just part of the job.

    But stick a needle in my arm and draw blood and you will have me fainting every time.

    Silly but true. Sometimes there are no rational reasons for our fears.

  25. One cannot truly experience fear (without the threat of immediate physical harm) until you see your infant child in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her arms and nose.

    Pure, animal terror.

  26. Sorry, I should have said “I never truly experiened fear until…”. I did not mean to project so much.

  27. @kel: “That my degree will be completely and utterly useless and I’ll end up in another soul destroying office job.”

    I could be worse. You could wind up in a soul destroying office job that REQUIRES your degree.

  28. There aren’t very many, but here they are:

    Heights. Heights make me cry.
    Having to go out and meet new people. That really makes me cry.
    Not actually knowing where my child is. Just thinking about it makes the rational part of my brain shut down completely.

  29. I guess I should have phrased the last one differently – if I had no idea where my child was at any given time, instead of not actually knowing where she is. Right now, she’s downstairs waiting for her dad to go trick-or-treating.

  30. Heart attacks.
    Pretty much anything fluttery and unpredictable that gets too close.
    Certain kinds of social interactions (or rather, the prospect of them), especially public speaking.

    Having to give a speech to a crowd of angry, restless butterflies would probably give me a heart attack.

  31. @marilove:
    The Baseline Killer is a good one. I actually live just off Baseline Road, and for a while I stopped riding my bike to work because of the wackos shooting and killing people around here.

    I really live in a good neighborhood. We just temporarily had some bad people around.

  32. @marilove: Man the stairs thing reminds me… Elevators. And escalators. And falling down the stairs too.

    Maybe I should just stay away from multi-level buildings…

  33. I might be alone on this one here, but what about… the sheer vastness of space? Thinking about that fills my mind with billions & billions of different feelings, and one of them is definitely fear. Can’t explain it, but… yeah. Don’t get me wrong, space is probably the most interesting thing ever, but… wow. Huge.

    Also, I get the same feeling from thinking about very deep water. The thought of the Marianas Trench creeps me out. I guess it’s anything that makes me feel tiny.

  34. There really isn’t anything outside of myself that frightens me. I guess I am just not an easily frightened person.

    Everything I am afraid of is some kind of concept or thought originating from within myself. (For example, the thought of always being alone, for example. That’s scary to me.)

  35. What truly frightens me are clowns. There is just something creepy about someone hiding under a fake painted on smiley face, and have been scared of them since I was little.

    Other than clowns, a complete lack of separation of church and state would be down-right terrifying.

  36. @LunarDelta: Same here, with the whole being alone thing. Makes me really want to deal with my whole social awkwardness issue. Eventually.

    @MathMike: Spelling errors terrify me, because I never know what I might do in the face of them. “LOSING” not “LOOSING.” It’s “lose” as it he will lose, not “loose” as in those pants are loose.

  37. This sounds very meta, but I swear it’s true: People who are scared for reasons that I find unnecessary scare me.

  38. Clowns scare me, too. Is this a common fear or is specific to skeptics?

    We must summon an Inquisition to extract the truth.

  39. @Chew: It’s common to intelligent people who can see the evil of clowns. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.. We all know about the great clown conspiracy! When I’m walking alone at night and I catch the scent of cotton candy, I break into a full run because I know they are after me…

  40. Ladders freak me out. I’m not afraid of heights I just can’t stand being on a ladder. The weird thing is I’ll stand on something I know is unstable no problem. I think I have this idea stuck in my head that ladders are suppose to be stable and then they move and I lose it.

  41. Real horror for me is horror that are real – psychopathic killers like Charlie Manson, for example. That is true horror. Being on unstable structures at great altitudes is also frightening. I don’t mind airplanes, but tall rickety ladders are horrible!


  42. I set my clocks back last weekend. If I do it again this weekend I’ll be an hour behind everyone around me.

    And I’m afraid of sharp things. It’s incredible how frail our bodies are when encountering a knife, or the corner of your fireplace if you stumble and fail to get your hands down to slow you down.

    Fortunately I’m able to supress that fear, or I’d never leave the bed.

  43. Well I’m glad to see that so many people also share my perfectly legitimate fear of clowns and sharks. I’m pretty sure I can trace both fears back to “It” and “Jaws”, but I can’t quite remember which movie is responsible for which fear :p

    I think next Halloween I’ll own my fears and go as a clown-shark

  44. I want to submit this entire clown/mime thread for COTW. Because it’s awesome and because clowns are evil. I’m with you guys.

    I also am completely creeped out by roaches.

  45. Clowns are lightweights. Toughen up people!

    What’s really scary are people who *like* clowns. Clowns are powerless if no one wants them around. But the people who work at circuses and set up children’s parties keep clowns among us. Imagine the mindset involved in saying “Yes — good clown — you’re hired.”

    And mimes. Mimes only exist because people give mimes money. And also because so few people walk through parks with a sense of decency and a baseball bat. Get yourself a proper moral compass and a Louisville slugger, and it won’t matter how hard blows the wind the mime is walking against.

    But no. People should be chasing mimes off and smuggling clowns on cargo planes bound for Third World countries. Those same people are hiring clowns and tipping mimes and (I assume) running over puppies. They are the real evil, and they must be stopped and THEY SCARE ME.

    Also: chemical warfare. That would suck. And spiders.

  46. I guess I am one of the few that isn’t terrified by clowns? I really can’t be, because I am a fan of Penn Jillette and he went to clown college so technically that makes him one of them. Of course the Killler Klowns from Outer Space are rather creepy and hilarious all at the same time.

    To every one afraid of sharks, especially @Lox,

    I became convinced, too, that considering the knowledge accumulated about great whites in the past 25 years, I couldn’t possible write Jaws today… not in good conscience anyway.

    -Peter Benchley in the April 2000 issue of National Geographic Page 12.

    if you want something truly terrifying, there is this

  47. @killyosaur42: Yea, I’m not really afraid of sharks, more like paranoid that theres one out to get me, like a bullet with my name on it, theres a shark out there with my name on its teeth :p

    I dunno maybe I ate its father or mother when I had fish and chips one day.

    And that was truly truly terrifying, still, like Tyrone its something I could get away from. Sharks are scary ’cause they’ve got you if you fight or flight, and you won’t see them coming, its probably more a fear of the unknown or being out of control than of sharks in particular.

    I stand by my statements that clowns are creepy though.

  48. I fear people who don’t care about the earth.
    I am an average consumer, I am no where near perfect, and have a few doubts about the prevalent opinions on what is beneficial…. but I have spoken to people who could give a shit’s less about our planet….. scary… where do they think they are going to live?

  49. In no particular order:
    – Bees.
    – The Republicans and all similar neo-con and religious ideologies.
    – Homelessness — I’ve been there before and I cannot face the prospect of going there again even though it is a very real possibility.
    – Spiders.
    – Being wrong. But being right scares me too.
    – Pain, but it’s like a thunderstorm was when I was a kid: it’s really the anticipation that fears me the mostest.
    – Public speaking.
    – Being a clown. I’m simply terrified by the thought that I might be a clown in disguise.

  50. Being raped is high on the list
    Being helpless
    Pain – seem to dislike it more than average
    And – I have no idea why this is a recurrent theme in my nightmares but – being stomped on by a large animal, like an elephant or a dinosaur. Seems to have a special significance all it’s own. Must be related to dance class when I was 6. I fell down and one of the other kids actually danced on my head for a few seconds before realizing it felt funny.

  51. Before I answer this

    OooooOOOOOoooooooo would be one of the acceptable methods of graphically describing an articulated locomotive with no front truck, 2 driven wheels, an 8 wheel truck, and two trailing trucks of 8 wheels each. Odd.

    The thing tat really scares me? Not doing somethimg I need to do because I am paralyzed. Like being paralyzed by fear and not being help my daughter, or ending up in a wheelchair and not having sex again.

  52. @SicPreFix: You know, there are clowns out there that don’t know they are clowns… Sort of like the Cylons, you know? They think that they are just regular people until one day WHAM, they’re putting on excessive makeup and squirting people with seltzer! You never know when the subconscious programming will kick in, so be alert!

  53. thankfully not much scares me any more, since i realised ghosts aren’t real and never will be i have become a lot more sane when in the dark. Though i do love a good zombie flick. Yes zombies, i’m scared of zombies.

  54. I guess that I have three fears. Here they are in order from most terrifying to simply terrifying.

    1. That I won’t be good father and my kids will be screwed up because I failed.

    2. I won’t be a good huband and my wife won’t feel loved.

    3. boredom.

  55. @Expatria: “- Dogs with bees in their mouths, so that when they bark they shoot bees at you”
    WTF is that all about?

    @Killyosaur42: One of the things about fears is that they frequently aren’t rational, such as my fear of sharks. I know that the probability of a shark attack is so close to zero as to not matter, especially in Lake Michigan. :-D I still catch myself looking over my shoulder at times… even in swimming pools!

    @gabrielbrawley: I used to fear messing up my kids when they were younger, until my mother-in-law said that “kids seem to have a built-in way to survive their parent’s lack of parenting skills because every Mom and Dad has to learn them. It takes a LOT to mess up a kid permanently. Like druggie parents, alcoholic parents, child abuse, etc.”

    @clown and mime fearers: What about miming clowns? Clowning mines? Are they adouble dose of fear to you? :-D

    Most bugs don’t worry me because I was raised in Puerto Rico. The tropics are loaded with them. Ever see a 4″ flying cockroach? How about a 12″ millepede with scarlet jaws? I can be startled by a bug, like one flying in my face, but I’m not in fear of them. (I think the praying mantis is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It’s my candidate for “most likely to resemble a real alien,” if we ever meet any.)

    Fear of violent crime could be a survival advantage if you live in a high crime area. I can’t speak to that.

    I hate feeling helpless, but I don’t fear it.

    @kel and RevChas: “That my degree will be completely and utterly useless and I’ll end up in another soul-destroying office job.”

    “It could be worse. You could wind up in a soul-destroying office job that REQUIRES your degree.”

    I agree, as I’m living that right now. It’s not fun at all and I spend my working hours planning my escape. What else can I do? :-(

  56. I am afraid of heights, though being able to hold onto something with my hands almost completely mitigates that. As a result, I love roller coasters.

    I am terrified that I will end up alone, trapped inside myself, having pushed everyone else away.

    I am not afraid of clowns, and in fact have done some clown-like volunteering before, as I can juggle and am a somewhat accomplished amateur balloon twister. I do, however, make a point of NOT wearing any makeup, or talking in a strange voice, because I find that’s what tends to scare people the most about clowns. This way, they can feel safely entertained by me before I eat their faces.

  57. @bug_girl: Don’t look at me! Unless they are actively chomping on me, I think they’re cool.

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