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  • This episode is sponsored by LastPass.

  • Hey smart people.

  • Joe here.

  • I need to warn you: This video is gonna be a little gross.

  • Especially if you're afraid of tinylittle... HOLES.

  • Or, maybe you're like me.

  • In which case you're probably wondering: Why exactly is this disgusting?

  • I mean, it's just a bunch of holesright?

  • Trypophobia.

  • In Greek it translates to a fearof holes.

  • But it can also include an aversion to bumps, clusters, blobs and bubbles.

  • It's actually pretty new as phobias go. The word was invented by an Irish blogger in 2005.

  • So there's not a lot of great data out there, but as many as 1 in 6 people may have trypophobia.

  • It's even more common than acrophobia, the fear of heights.

  • Yes, even ol' PewDiePie himself fears all things holey.

  • Butaccording to the people in charge of these things, trypophobia isn't even officially recognized as an actual phobia.

  • Wait, then what exactly is a phobia in the first place?

  • The definition of a phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of something.

  • Fearin generalserves a good biological purpose - it helps us avoid deadly things, like venomous snakes or the edge of a cliff.

  • But when our brains take it too far, and we aim our fear at things that can't actually hurt us in that moment, that's a phobia.

  • Like a fear of spiders.

  • Sure, if you live in Australia then arachnophobia is not irrational, because Australia is full of scary things that can kill you.

  • But if you're just reading Harry Potter at bedtime and a little cellar spider joins the party, there's no reason to burn down your house.

  • You're not in any real danger.

  • Unless you knock yourself out running away from it or something.

  • It's irrational to be afraid of that little harmless spider friend.

  • A fear of a bunch of small holes?

  • It's definitely irrational.

  • But what if people with trypophobia aren't actually evenafraid of holes?

  • If it's not fear, it can't be a phobia.

  • Certain emotions do certain things to people's faces, almost universally.

  • Almost universally.

  • People experiencing fear typically have high eyebrows, their mouth is open, their eyes are wide.

  • But people feeling disgust typically have wrinkled brows, pursed lips, and crinkled up noses.

  • Now, there aren't a lot of scientists studying trypophobia.

  • Because, who would want to?

  • But we can study people's reactions, looking for these telltale signs.

  • Scientists have done this, and research is starting to suggest: trypophobia is more about disgust than fear.

  • Why did we develop a reaction like this, back in evolution?

  • Fear and disgust evolved for different reasons, but they both tell us to avoid a bad thing.

  • Fear helps us avoid immediate danger, usually by triggering the fight or flight response.

  • But disgust helps us avoid something different.

  • There have been plenty of theories on why disgust evolved, but they each only explain part of the picture.

  • Like helping us avoid rotten food or sick people.

  • It wasn't until a couple of decades ago that we came up with a unified theory of disgust.

  • A scientist named Val Curtisthat's Val Kilmer, guysOk.

  • So Val Curtis developed the idea that our innate disgust reaction evolved as a way to avoid crawly, wormy, oozy things that could cause infection and disease.

  • It's called the Parasite Avoidance Theory of disgust, and it's the top theory of why we find some things gross.

  • It falls into these six categories.

  • Basically, the things that disgust us risk having some microscopic danger hiding inside of them.

  • Like poop has bacteria.

  • Rotting food may have mold.

  • Flesh wounds could carry parasites.

  • Feeling disgust ensures that we literally physically close ourselves off and avoid those things.

  • We're even disgusted by things if they just don't seem quite right, our bodies way of saying, "You can't be too careful when it comes to parasites."

  • If we find it gross, we won't touch it or eat it, which makes it more likely that we'll survive and reproduce, and that's all natural selection cares about.

  • And because our brains have this awesome ability to generalize and categorize and remember, even things that look like dangerous things disgust us.

  • Clusters of holes?

  • They most likely remind people of something in one of those six categories of disgusting stuff.

  • I mean, think about it, a lotus seed pod does sort of look like the worst skin infection imaginable.

  • That may be why these images are particularly nausea-inducing.

  • Of course people and cultures and customs are very different, and what we find disgusting varies too.

  • The disgust response may be biologically programmed and universal, but maybe a lot of what we find disgusting is taught and learned.

  • More research is needed.

  • I'm sure there will be a lot of volunteers.

  • So if you have trypophobia, you may feel afraid of holes, but you're probably just disgusted.

  • Andthat means it's likely not a phobia at all.

  • Unfortunately, we don't really know if trypophobia can be cured, but avoiding videos like this seems like the best way to deal with it for now.

  • So if your friend has trypophobia, don't show them this video!

  • And if you have it, I'm sorry you had to watch this!

  • But thanks for staying curious.

This episode is sponsored by LastPass.

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B2 US disgust fear phobia avoid irrational val

Are You Afraid of Holes?

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    April Lu posted on 2019/03/18
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