Skeptic Check: Fear Itself from Big Picture Science

From Big Picture Science - ENCORE  Shhh.  Is someone coming? Okay, we'll make this quick.  There are a lot of scary things going on in the world.  Naturally you're fearful.  But sometimes fear has a sister emotion: suspicion.  A nagging worry about what's really going on. You know, the stuff they aren't telling you.  Don't share this, but we have evidence that both our fear response and our tendency to believe conspiracy theories are evolutionarily adaptive.   A sociologist who studies fear tells us why we're addicted to its thrill when we control the situation, and how the media exploit our fear of losing control to keep us on edge.  Plus, we examine some alien "cover-ups" and discover why it's not just the tinfoil hat crowd that falls for outrageous plots. It's Skeptic Check .... but you didn't hear it from us! Guests: Margee Kerr - Sociologist who studies fear, author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear Rob Brotherton - Psychologist, adjunct assistant professor at Barnard College, and author of Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories
Skeptic Check: Fear Itself
2016-12-19 08:48:24
ENCORE  Shhh.  Is someone coming? Okay, we'll make this quick.  There are a lot of scary things going on in the world.  Naturally you're fearful.  But sometimes fear has a sister emotion: suspicion.  A nagging worry about what's really going on. You know, the stuff they aren't telling you.  Don't share this, but we have evidence that both our fear response and our tendency to believe conspiracy theories are evolutionarily adaptive.   A sociologist who studies fear tells us why we're addicted to its thrill when we control the situation, and how the media exploit our fear of losing control to keep us on edge.  Plus, we examine some alien "cover-ups" and discover why it's not just the tinfoil hat crowd that falls for outrageous plots. It's Skeptic Check .... but you didn't hear it from us! Guests: Margee Kerr - Sociologist who studies fear, author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear Rob Brotherton - Psychologist, adjunct assistant professor at Barnard College, and author of Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

50 minutes, 31 seconds

More Episodes from Big Picture Science

Big Picture Science weaves together a universe of big ideas from robots to memory to antimatter to dinosaurs. Tune in and make contact with science.

Creature Discomforts (rebroadcast)
Okay you animals, line up: stoned sloths, playful pandas, baleful bovines, and vile vultures. We've got you guys pegged, thanks to central casting.  Or do we? Our often simplistic view of animals ignores their remarkable adaptive abilities. Stumbly sloths are in fact remarkably agile and a...

Granting Immunity (rebroadcast)
"Diversity or die" could be your new health mantra. Don't boost your immune system, cultivate it! Like a garden, your body's defenses benefit from species diversity.  Find out why multiple strains of microbes, engaged in a delicate ballet with your T-cells, join internal fungi in combatting...

Mars Attracts
Earth invades Mars in February. In a historic trifecta for space exploration, spacecraft of three countries will arrive at Mars, and for two of those it will be their first time at the Red Planet. We talk to the science lead for the Emirates Mars Mission, a NASA engineer piloting the first...

Iron, Coal, Wood
Maybe you don't remember the days of the earliest coal-fired stoves. They changed domestic life, and that changed society. We take you back to that era, and to millennia prior when iron was first smelt, and even earlier, when axe-handles were first fashioned from wood, as we explore how three...

Skeptic Check: Shared Reality
One of the many shocking aspects of the Capitol attack was that it revealed how thoroughly the nation had cleaved into alternate realities. How did we get to this point? How did misinformation come to create beliefs embraced by millions?  In this episode, experts in social media, cults, and the...

Supercomputer Showdown (rebroadcast)
Do you have a hard-to-answer question? The Summit, Sierra, Trinity, Frontier, and Aurora supercomputers are built to tackle it. Summit tops the petaflop heap - at least for now. But Frontier and Aurora are catching up as they take aim at a new performance benchmark called exascale.    So why do...

Skeptic Check: Betting on Pseudoscience (rebroadcast)
Psychics may not be able to predict the future or sense your thoughts. Nonetheless, they rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. But the harm from pseudoscience can go far beyond your wallet - especially when it promotes unscientific treatments for serious disease. Find out what...

Headed for Trouble (rebroadcast)
The stone heads on Easter Island are an enduring mystery: why were they built and why were they abandoned and destroyed? The old ideas about cultural collapse are yielding to new ones based on careful investigation on the ground - but also from above. What surprising explanations have we found and...

For Good Measure (rebroadcast)
The reign of Le Grand K has come to an end. After 130 years, this hunk of metal sitting in a Parisian vault will no longer define the kilogram. The new kilogram mass will be defined by Planck's constant, joining three other units for redefinition by fundamental constants.  But as we measure with...

Handling the Holidays (rebroadcast)
The stress of the holidays can make you want to hide under the covers with a warm cup of cocoa.  From gift buying to family gatherings, the holidays can feel like being inside a pressure cooker.  But don't despair!  Science can help make the holidays a little brighter, from some gift-giving tips...

Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.