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Fear

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eggshaped
303106.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:35 am Reply with quote

Stay tuned for some more amazing Batman-related factoids Dr Bob; I think they will be making an appearance on this bat-forum soon.

 
MatC
303185.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:52 am Reply with quote

Henry Kissinger “twice put the US on nuclear alert [as a negotiating technique], hoping to scare the Soviets into thinking that Nixon was ‘mad’ enough to start an atomic war.”

S: London Review of Books, 29 Nov 07, in a review of two new biographies of Kissinger

 
MatC
303215.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:11 am Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
In his book “Flat Earth News” (Chatto, 2008; as reviewed in London Review of Books, 6 March 08), Nick Davies reprints some of the headlines from British papers pre-reporting the Millennium Bug. They do make quite amusing reading ...


Another review of this book (Morning Star, 3 March 08) adds two details: according to Davies, “Countries such as Italy, which took virtually no preventative measures, were no more affected than those like Britain, which spent millions on preventative measures.”

He also “traces the start of the story to Canada on a Saturday morning in May 1973, when technology consultant Peter Jager warned that computer systems would fail worldwide come the new millennium.”

 
dr.bob
303257.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:08 pm Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
Another review of this book (Morning Star, 3 March 08) adds two details: according to Davies, “Countries such as Italy, which took virtually no preventative measures, were no more affected than those like Britain, which spent millions on preventative measures.”


If I ever meet Mr Davies, I shall have to slap him around the face with a wet fish for spreading such malicious lies.

It took me all of about 45 seconds using google to find this old article from La Repubblica which describes preparations for dealing with the Y2K bug at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. As well as "examining every single hardware, software, and firmware component", they also ran a simulation involving the police and airline companies. In conclusion, it notes that preparations for the oncoming year 2000 involved "a level of investment of around 4 billion lira." By my reckoning, that's over a million quid. And that's just one airport.

"Virtually no preventative measures" my arse!

 
MatC
303260.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:09 pm Reply with quote

Excellent! Clearly a carefully researched tome.

 
dr.bob
303263.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:13 pm Reply with quote

He also spelled "Peter de Jager's" name wrong :)

 
Flash
303279.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:39 pm Reply with quote

He probably just meant that they did take preventative measures but were hopelessly effete about it and just shouted and gesticulated at each other and then broke off for lunch at their mother's house.

 
Flash
303280.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:42 pm Reply with quote

Fear of hawks is apparently innate in ducklings - a book I have here says that newly-hatched ducklings show fear when a shape like this:

---]-

moves towards the right, because it suggests a hawk, but not when it moves to the left because then it suggests a goose. No source is cited, but the book was published in 1990. Any ideas where we could track this down?

 
WB
303299.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:11 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Fear of hawks is apparently innate in ducklings - a book I have here says that newly-hatched ducklings show fear when a shape like this:

---]-

moves towards the right, because it suggests a hawk, but not when it moves to the left because then it suggests a goose. No source is cited, but the book was published in 1990. Any ideas where we could track this down?


These were part of some experiments done by the animal behaviourist Niko Tinbergen in about 1950. You could try his book "The Study of Instinct".

Tinbergen was my mother's tutor at Oxford.

 
eggshaped
303828.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:43 am Reply with quote

Tinbergen's experiments were originally pooh-pooed by the scientific community because subsequent attempts to replicate his findings were unsuccessful. However in 1995, Canty and Gould managed to successfully replicate his results, and suggested reasons that other researchers had failed.

Moreover, there could be a similar in-built mechanism in humans that makes one scared of spiders. A couple of experiments in the US have shown that babies concentrate more on shapes of spiders than more abstract silhouettes.

In one study:
Quote:
Rak­i­son and Der­rin­ger sat 16 five-month-old ba­bies on their par­ents’ laps and showed them three sim­ple, sche­mat­ic pic­tures. One de­picted a spi­der; a sec­ond, the same spi­der with its legs point­ed in un­nat­u­ral di­rec­tions, so that the ob­vi­ous spi­der re­sem­blance was lost; and third, the same spi­der with its body parts to­tally scram­bled.

The in­fants looked at the normal spi­der for about 24 sec­onds on av­er­age, com­pared to 16 or 17 sec­onds for the oth­er images, the re­search­ers found.


Canty & Gould (requires payment)

Discussion here:
http://www.grandin.com/references/genetics.html

Baby-spider study:
http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/070917_spider.htm

 
MatC
303839.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:53 am Reply with quote

Which raises the question, why are we afraid of spiders? Have they been a major cause of death in previous periods of human development? Shouldn't we also have an innate fear of things which are in fact more often dangerous to us?

 
eggshaped
303854.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:07 am Reply with quote

One (slightly spurious) theory put forward was that while most spiders are not poisonous, many in Africa (where mankind began) are. A slight predisposition in a baby to avoid spider-shaped objects might be a strong evolutionary advantage.

 
Frederick The Monk
303860.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:17 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Fear of hawks is apparently innate in ducklings - a book I have here says that newly-hatched ducklings show fear when a shape like this:

---]-

moves towards the right, because it suggests a hawk, but not when it moves to the left because then it suggests a goose. No source is cited, but the book was published in 1990. Any ideas where we could track this down?


Try Threat assessment by domestic ducklings using visual signals: implications for animal–machine interactions, J. Henderson Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 69, Issue 3, Pages 241-253 1990

 
Flash
304126.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:42 am Reply with quote

I can't put my hand on my copy of that just now, but it looks from the foregoing top-notch combination of research and name-dropping that this is at least for real. The question now is: is it usable? EG, could we have the silhouette running L-R in one screen and R-L in the other and ask "which is scarier?". I think the info is quite good, particularly now that it can be backed up with the scrambled spiders, so I think tentatively 'yes'. I'll put it in the basket, anyway.

Jupitus does a good goose impression.

 
Jenny
304378.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:07 pm Reply with quote

I think that would be a great question.

 

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