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Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

Posted October 31, 2017 8:58 AM by Mindful Monkey

Just in time for Halloween and all things dark and spooky, the results of the 2017 Chapman University Survey of American Fears Wave 4 are in. Science and technology show up on the list in multiple categories. The survey asked a random sample of 1,207 American adults to rate their level of fear of 80 items encompassing a wide range of topics. Each fear is followed by the percentage of people who felt that it made them “afraid” or “very afraid.”

The environment factored heavily in this year’s list with four environmental fears in the top 10. This is a big change as it is the first time any environmental issue made it into the top 10:

3. Pollution of oceans, rivers & lakes (53.1)

4. Pollution of drinking water (50.4)

8. Global warming and climate change (48.0)

10. Air pollution (44.9)

12. Extinction of plant and animal species (43.5)

26. Oil spill (36.2)

27. The collapse of the electrical grid (35.7)

32. Nuclear accident/meltdown (30.3)

37. Devastating drought (26.6)

43. Devastating tornado (24.3)

45. Devastating earthquake (22.6)

46. Devastating hurricane (21.4)

63. Devastating blizzard/winter storm (15.2)

70. Large volcanic eruption (10.6)

Perhaps not surprisingly, a number security and cybersecurity items landed fairly high on the list:

7. The U.S. will be involved in another World War (48.4)

9. North Korea using weapons (47.5)

14. Identity theft (41.9)

15. Biological warfare (41.8)

16. Credit card fraud (40.3)

19. Cyber terrorism (39.1)

21. Nuclear weapons attack (39)

24. Government tracking of personal data (37.4)

25. Corporate tracking of personal data (36.7)

33. Losing my data, photos or other important documents in a disaster (29)

36. Government use of drones within the US (27.2)

Fears around the cost of and access to healthcare also ranked relatively high:

2. American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare (55.3)

6. High medical bills (48.4)

29. Affordable Care Act/Obamacare (39.9)

30. Pandemic or major epidemic (32.8)

Finally, the ubiquitous nature of tech also made the list:

42. Computers replacing people in the workforce (25.3) -- right behind sharks at (25. 4)

64. Technology I don’t understand (14.9)

And, just as a point of reference, number 1 on the list is corrupt government officials (74.5), and way down on the list at number 78 is zombies (5.3), followed by ghosts (4.3), and animals such as dogs, rats, etc. (3.7).

You can see the entire list of fears here.

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#1

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

10/31/2017 12:03 PM

Well I have been taught over and over that 85% of what I worry about will never happen. That leaves the bottom 15%,

1) corrupt government officials (of the same or other party)

2) zombie apocalypse (depends on the proliferation of puffer fish toxin)

3) ghosts (been there done that, wish they would get out from under my bed, and they make my room cold at night)

4) rabid dogs and Englishmen named John Bull, along with rabid bats, foxes (of either kind), and any kind of snake that just shows up in my back yard.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

10/31/2017 3:52 PM

Sharknado, perhaps?

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

10/31/2017 5:01 PM

Yeah, but I am too far inland, is that what you fear? A shark landing on a car skylight that is open, perhaps?

You do realize that Vincent Price was a role model for me growing up, right?

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

10/31/2017 5:09 PM

Apparently more people are killed by coconuts, champagne corks and cows than by sharks. Then again, according to this article, more people were killed by Sharknado than by actual sharks.

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#8
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 8:52 AM

Always be mindful, Mr. Monkey, of the source.

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#5

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/01/2017 4:22 AM

I wonder if they asked Victor Navorski if he had a fear of krakozhia ?

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#9
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 8:54 AM

I have a greater fear of airport terminals than a fictional country...just sayin'.

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#6

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/01/2017 11:06 AM

I don't understand why the fear of being conscious to witness one's own death did not make the list.

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#10
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 8:56 AM

Are we talking about being present in the body, or being a departed soul in advance of the event, looking down, and watching it happen?

If everyone had such an overwhelming fear, nothing would ever get done.

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#12
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 10:12 AM

Remember that question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"? A corollary to that is , "Which dies first, the body or the consciousness?". When I killed chickens for food, I was just a kid with primitive means. I know they were aware of their deaths. When they escaped after I chopped off their heads, they ran around spewing blood & guts from both ends. It took longer for them to die than I expected. All I know, is that I wouldn't want to witness/experience my own death. That fear might not be disabling. It might actually be a motive to survive.

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#7

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/01/2017 12:38 PM

Speaking of low-odds possibilities, there was the situation where a guy rents a vehicle to drive around the U. S. on vacation, and decides to buy the cheapest cheap-scate motorist insurance policy...

Everything went fine, until one day, he gets slowed down by a large, flatbed truck & trailer (crawling) along through Kansas...

It seems that the trailer was loaded with a nearly full-size replica of an adult blue whale, and then, the wind picked-up a bit ...

The vacationer decided to pass the (combo), just as the wind started to pick-up a little bit more ...

The (combo) started to swerve before the vacationer could complete the pass, just as the tie-downs started to break...

Too late, the load rolled off of the trailer, and onto the vacationer, causing quite an accident...

As a result of the litigation, it was determined that protection from a blue whale rollng over on top of him, in the middle of Kansas, was the only thing he was covered for...

(i.e.: even loooong odds don't always mean totally impossible odds...)

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 8:57 AM

That has to be true, since no one in their right mind can make that sort of thing up.

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#13

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 11:11 AM

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#14
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 11:17 AM

Basically, when it comes down to my time to be afraid, I will be afraid, very afraid.

Then I will get past it, one way or the other.

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#15
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 11:43 AM

Aw, spiders are cool. I like to think of them eating all the other nasty things I don't want around. I am actually the spider-getter in my house. I never kill them, just usher them outside. Or, just leave them alone.

https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/in-defense-of-spiders/

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#16

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 3:07 PM

"it is the first time any environmental issue made it into the top 10."

No surprise there.

I'm sure those worries began to spring up very rapidly, shortly after the first of the year! Rightfully so.

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#17
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/02/2017 3:22 PM

Nah. I would be more concerned if the environmental issue was dog poo all over my front lawn.

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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/03/2017 10:24 PM

This post was deleted because it was overly religious or political. While each user is entitled to his or her own opinion on these topics, this forum is not the place for discussion about them. Please review Section 14 of the Site FAQ and the Rules of Conduct.

U.S. to Exit Global Anti-Corruption Effort Aimed at Oil Cash - Bloomberg

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#19
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/06/2017 10:03 AM

Uncalled for, and offensive!

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#20

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/07/2017 9:51 PM

It's been shown that what people fear and the actual dangers are quite often different. People will fear anthrax more than influenza, whereas the death rate from anthrax is very low but at least a quarter million people in the world die of influenza every year.

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/11/perceived_risk_2.html

What people fear is more driven by what has been in the news media than by any kind of rational assessment of the dangers.

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#21
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/08/2017 9:38 AM

Well, I do have a fear that statisticians don't really have their own craft down to a science. For instance, I fear more being hit by an asteroid than being attacked by a shark. I'm land-locked and have 0% chance of a shark attack. Anthrax is just a method of the real threat. Terrorism/assassination is the real threat, which can use virtually an infinite number of methods. Even if a roller-coaster is the safest form of transportation, I still wouldn't get on one that has obvious defects. It's just that I won't trust those statistics to replace my own judgement. Statistics has not yet found a way to measure all the factors that go into one's judgement. Therefore, using statistics as a measure of one's objectiveness is unfair. Call that a subjective opinion if you want; I have no scientific statistics/facts to back it up with.

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#22
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Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/08/2017 9:57 AM

I am not a statistician, so I don't have an exact percentage, but I would say something like 99% of fear is irrational and worrying is always a waste of time. That said, I am often afraid and do occasionally worry. Go figure. Humans are complicated.

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#23

Re: Science and Technology Represented on the List of Top Fears

11/09/2017 6:26 AM

Is there an asteroid in there? Or maybe we put too much faith in Bruce Willis movies.

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