I’ve gone on for a long time about fear making humans stupid, and even about it being a weapon and a brain poison. But I’ve also wondered at times whether people would hit fear-fatigue… that point where people have simply had enough fear and walk out from under it.
As it turns out, however, I was a bit optimistic on fear fatigue. I’ve been reading Robert Sapolsky’s newest book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best And Worst, and was disappointed to learn what the best new research shows on the long-term application of fear. (Or, in the academic terminology, sustained stress.)
My disappointment, however, was soon tempered by two things:
- I gained information on how fear poisoning works.
- That human neurology is immensely variable, that there are exceptions to everything, and that if the whole picture were actually as dark as the most troubling findings, we’d have devolved into nothing but murderous monkeys long ago.
I barely need to say this, but 2020 has been The Year of Fear. I’m a bit amazed by the extent of it. There is a certain appeal to soaking up all the fear stories in normal times – our ability to look evil in the eye makes us appear vibrant – but 2020 has pushed far beyond that level. What we’re encountering is much more than simple fear porn, and there are certain outlets (including websites) that I can only describe as obscene.
This is more destructive than people realize.
Read more: The Caustic Wages Of Perpetual Fear