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The Funniest Residents of Uncanny Valley, Creepy Clowns – and Why They Scare Us
Creepy clowns are everywhere, but why do we find clowns so creepy in the first place? New research into creepiness confirms what we all thought: clowns are objectively creepy.
From California to the Carolinas and now even in the United Kingdom, creepy clowns are out to get us. The terrifying fad has lead to college police departments asking people not to dress as clowns for Halloween this year. The coulrophobics of the United States are in a collective state of dread.
The idea of clowns being frightening is ingrained in our culture. From Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise in the film adaption of “It” to the real life hobby of John Wayne Gacy dressing up as “Pogo the Clown”. Even in the recent children’s film "Inside Out" there was a prominent depiction of a clown being frightening as opposed to funny.
But, why clowns? Why do we find these characters that are supposed to make us laugh so creepy?
As it turns out, children don’t even like clowns. A 2008 study in England showed that nearly all children surveyed found clown designs in hospital wards discomforting. Some going so far as to find them “frightening and unknowable”, and that older children were particularly averse to them.
For adults, it seems that clowns have nearly every element of creepiness checked off. A recent study of creepiness asked subjects to rate the creepiness level of 44 different features. The results showed persons that are seen as creepy are more likely to be male, have strange physical features or nonverbal actions, tend to have odd patterns of eye contact, and demonstrate unpredictable behavior.
This series of features could practically be a list of job requirements for persons looking to become a clown. Oh, and the subjects chose “clown” as the creepiest listed profession. The runners up included taxidermists and funeral directors.
Psychologically, scary clowns often strike at one of our primal fears, they are uncanny. Uncanniness is a notion in psychology that goes back to before Freud. The idea being that the closer something is to being familiar, without quite making it, the more uncomfortable we are with it. The previously mentioned studies show that clowns, with their makeup, odd behavior, and comic features are residents of uncanny valley. We respond to the uncanny intuitively, with fear, fight, and flight. The image of the creepy clown just takes advantage of this.
There you have it, the classic whiteface-auguste clown is officially creepy; sorry Bozo. Let’s just all hope this fad passes soon; then we can get back to all the other things that scare us.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.