Why is it So Fun to Be Scared?

In Brain, Influences, Politics, Social Issues by DC McGuire3 Comments

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Every year, more than 300 million people — more than the population of the United States — ride roller coasters at U.S. amusement parks, generating more than $9 billion in revenue, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, a trade group.  Why do we wait in long lines and  pay to be scared – really scared?

Because fear releases dopamine.  As Margee Kerr explains in her 4 minute TED Ed animation, fear that doesn’t seem related to survival creates positive high arousal states including excitement, happiness, and even some of the euphoria associated with sex. Thank you, dopamine.

Pain free, worry-free fear, just for fun fear is a natural high.  Non-essential systems and critical thinking are shut down. The complexities and troubles of the world disappear.  The 3 minute Twisted Colossus roller coaster ride is 3 minutes on an alien planet – no ability or need to think or do anything other than stay strapped in, scream and enjoy the thrill!

As you enjoy this terrific little animation, contemplate what happens to our critical thinking when politicians and religious leaders shouting frightening ideas with terrifying predictions, shutting down the minds of excited followers. The scariest part of this reality is that supporters or adherents are trapped in a condition of negative high arousal that isn’t over 3 minutes later.  They may feel elated and euphoric, and energized, but it may be at the expense of relinquishing their capacity to act on the basis of independent analytical thinking.

Masses addicted to political and religious dopamine-powered thrill “rides” are perpetually stuck in  on the roller coaster – literally scared out of their minds, and consequently unable to challenge the frightening rhetoric and policies of bombastic, self-serving leaders.  Plus, as Margee Kerr explains, we actually bond and enjoy a sense of connectedness by sharing fear; whether it’s following a ride on a roller coaster, at a religious gathering, or a taking part in a political rally.  Now that can be scary!

4 minute animated TED Ed video on fear



  1. Brandi

    Pennisula The Lobby 不可訂座嗎? 但我印象中曾經預留過座位的. 其實都不是那麼多人, å°†…¶çå¾åœ¨æ²’有了吸煙區同非吸煙區的判別後. 我上星期二(公眾假期) walk in 都有位. 不過我個人認為 Mandarin Oriental 的糕點水準比 Pennisula 好. 我最愛吃 Rose platter + scone 了, 一流啊. 所以你沒有選錯啦.

  2. http://www./

    Thanks for commenting Cyndi. Opinions are always appreciated I am almost done with my current book and then I’m going to get started on The Fire Wife. I’m looking forward to reading it.Erin, it’s odd to hear that she is so worried in the book. I mean, not saying I don’t. But since she was in the field you would think she’d feel a little better about the job and all the training they receive. Now you have my curiosity peaked even more to read it. lol

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    I enjoyed reading the post… Brings together old gen with the new gen.. Raising a child, herculean task.. advices from elders definitely a great help… books have a role to play … reading is next to learning….but at the end of the day parents have to learn to deal with their toddlers in their own special way and I can bet each one can write a book on this.

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