Are you afraid of the stars?

  • Thread starter tfr000
  • Start date
  • #1
201
21
"At a deeper level, I've had several people tell me that the stars scare them."
-Tony Flanders, Sky & Telescope, Jan. 2016 issue
 
  • Like
Likes Silicon Waffle and Dotini

Answers and Replies

  • #2
davenn
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2021 Award
9,582
8,653
what was the stated reason ?
seems a bit oddball


Dave
 
  • #3
Dotini
Gold Member
633
231
"At a deeper level, I've had several people tell me that the stars scare them."
-Tony Flanders, Sky & Telescope, Jan. 2016 issue
I suspect this has to do with human psychology and mythology, deeply embedded in our species' memory and DNA over tens of thousands of years. We deeply suspect our origin and destiny are tied to the stars. And we don't fully understand it.

I have detailed and distinctive memories of first gazing at the stars as a very young boy on the high plains of Texas, and of my first experience gazing at them through a telescope. Somehow, there and then, I sensed that the stars were alive and had meaning, that they were aware of me, and I became very afraid and ran inside. Later, when I first applied my eye to a telescope - it had been trained on Venus - I saw not a planet, but a yin-yang symbol! And again, I ran inside. It was only many years later that I learned what a yin-yang symbol, stars and planets actually were.
 
  • Like
Likes Silicon Waffle
  • #4
201
21
what was the stated reason ?
seems a bit oddball


Dave
None given. He discusses fear in general, fear of the dark in particular, and how it affects astronomy - we (humans) want to light up the dark. After the above statement, he does go on to say that he sympathizes, "The stars are utterly alien, completely and forever beyond our control."

I've always found that a very dark sky inspires a sort of calm, contemplative, almost reverent state. The definition of sublime.
 
  • #5
SteamKing
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
12,798
1,670
"At a deeper level, I've had several people tell me that the stars scare them."
-Tony Flanders, Sky & Telescope, Jan. 2016 issue
Whatever. I've learned not to act too surprised at the quirks of random people.
 
  • #6
1,532
634
Fear usually comes from ignorance, those who fear stars probably simply don't understand them in any real sense. There are people that don't understand that the sun is a star, and since the dawn of man, a comet was a terrifying spectacle.
i+dont+believe+the+moon.gif


Go look at youtube for the amounts of pure ignorance, there are some quite entertaining ideas about a flat earth, geocentric universes, and my favorite: time dilation around a black hole being caused by the simulation computer struggling to keep up.
 
  • Like
Likes Silicon Waffle
  • #7
263
181
Colliding galaxies, gamma ray burst from imploding stars, our solar system getting sucked into a SMBH. Pick your poison. Its probably not so much ignorance as it is scientific documentaries proposing "what could happen". The same could be said about near earth asteroids, or invasion by an alien race. How ever irrational a fear of remote possibilities can be.
 
  • #8
3,388
945
Not me, but I do know someone who isn't afraid of stars as such,
but they find that considering the vastness of space and the distances between things is just too much for them,
so they would rather not think about it.
 
  • #9
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,373
8,898
Go look at youtube for the amounts of pure ignorance, there are some quite entertaining ideas about a flat earth, geocentric universes, and my favorite: time dilation around a black hole being caused by the simulation computer struggling to keep up.
That's hilarious. Hadn't heard that one before. Thanks for posting :smile:
 
  • #10
rbelli1
Gold Member
1,011
389
I've never been afraid of the stars however when looking out at them on a particularly clear night I have *FELT* the vastness of space. At those moments I feel compelled to grab a hold the earth lest I fall off and the small mote I live on be swept away.

BoB
 
  • #11
DaveC426913
Gold Member
20,208
3,578
Fear usually comes from ignorance, those who fear stars probably simply don't understand them in any real sense. There are people that don't understand that the sun is a star, and since the dawn of man, a comet was a terrifying spectacle.


Go look at youtube for the amounts of pure ignorance, there are some quite entertaining ideas about a flat earth, geocentric universes, and my favorite: time dilation around a black hole being caused by the simulation computer struggling to keep up.

Colliding galaxies, gamma ray burst from imploding stars, our solar system getting sucked into a SMBH. Pick your poison. Its probably not so much ignorance as it is scientific documentaries proposing "what could happen". The same could be said about near earth asteroids, or invasion by an alien race. How ever irrational a fear of remote possibilities can be.

I think there is an excess of cynicism here. And prejudgment. The original quote has no context, so these hypotheses shed no light on the subjects (not as much light as it sheds on the hypothesizers :wink:).

Things always sounds crazier when taken out of context. For all we know, these are intelligent people who are expressing a deep connection with the cosmos in a way you and I might in an intimate, reflective moment. If our intimate thoughts with another astro-buff were publicly splashed across a glossy page for all to judge, it might look pretty crazy too.

I'd hate to be on the receiving end of this.

Sure, there's lots of fools out there, but I'd rather give em the benefit of the doubt until shown otherwise.

My 2c.
 
  • Like
Likes gjonesy
  • #12
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2021 Award
17,373
8,898
Sure, there's lots of fools out there, but I'd rather give em the benefit of the doubt until shown otherwise.

Dave, you are much too generous :smile:


idiots.jpg
 
  • Like
Likes DaveC426913
  • #13
263
181
I think there is an excess of cynicism here. And prejudgment.

No prejudgement here, I don't think it's odd to have healthy respect for anything in the realm of "possibility". Nor do I think any type of phobia has an impact on intelligence. Fear of any kind may be deemed irrational to some, but if you are the one with the phobia its not irrational to you at all. My mom was a smart woman but was terrified by spiders. I have a friend that is a software engineer that's scared of clowns. I know a lady who's a great person who is agoraphobic. You and I may veiw it as irrational for us....but we aren't inside their heads and therefore can't really know what's that's like.
 
  • Like
Likes DaveC426913
  • #14
263
181
looking out at them on a particularly clear night I have *FELT* the vastness of space.

I have sometimes wondered if a particular star I'm looking at is even really there. Considering the night sky is filled with light from stars millions of years ago. We are looking at ancient history.
 
  • #15
1,532
634
I think there is an excess of cynicism here. And prejudgment.
Not really, humans fear what they don't understand, therefore ignorance causes fear. That's true for any animal, not just humans.
 
  • #16
263
181
Not really, humans fear what they don't understand, therefore ignorance causes fear. That's true for any animal, not just humans

That statement is a half truth. I have a fear of being shot in the face. I'm not ignorant of guns, I understand them quite well as part of my job, I'm actually a professional and an expert marksmen. My fear actually comes from knowledge, I know what a bullet can do to you.
 
  • #17
DaveC426913
Gold Member
20,208
3,578
Not really, humans fear what they don't understand, therefore ignorance causes fear. That's true for any animal, not just humans.
My point is that I think you're reading too much into it.
 
  • Like
Likes gjonesy
  • #18
1,532
634
That statement is a half truth. I have a fear of being shot in the face. I'm not ignorant of guns, I understand them quite well as part of my job, I'm actually a professional and an expert marksmen. My fear actually comes from knowledge, I know what a bullet can do to you.
I didn't claim all fear was caused by ignorance, I merely stated that ignorance causes fear. I fear space because I don't know what's lurking out there, I fear the amazon river because I do know what's lurking there.

My point is that I think you're reading too much into it.
Fair enough, there's not enough context to know why these people say that stars scare them.
 
  • #19
263
181
I merely stated that ignorance causes fear

That's a broad statement though. Sometimes ignorance causes the opposite, "curiosity".
 
  • #20
263
181
I've reread the thread and I get the point about context, but I also get the negative stereotype label "ignorant" that Dave pointed out.
After thinking about it a while I came to the conclusion that ignorance or fear of the unknown was probably an important survival instinct. And actually its not so "irrational, stupid, foolish or quirky" it actually maybe what's kept humans alive as a species.
 
  • #21
159
203
[...]
After thinking about it a while I came to the conclusion that ignorance or fear of the unknown was probably an important survival instinct. And actually its not so "irrational, stupid, foolish or quirky" it actually maybe what's kept humans alive as a species.
Yes, as long as they are mentally healthy. That case can be counted in. :biggrin:
 
  • #22
1,532
634
I've reread the thread and I get the point about context, but I also get the negative stereotype label "ignorant" that Dave pointed out.
After thinking about it a while I came to the conclusion that ignorance or fear of the unknown was probably an important survival instinct. And actually its not so "irrational, stupid, foolish or quirky" it actually maybe what's kept humans alive as a species.
Exactly, all higher creatures fear what they don't know. Why does "ignorant" have a negative stereotype? I certainly didn't mean it that way, and that's not it's definition. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge.
 
  • #23
263
181
Why does "ignorant" have a negative stereotype?

Just from the type of fear I'm guessing. A phobia that is relatable as opposed to one that isn't. Fear of heights is quite common and understandable, where as coulrophobia (fear of clowns) is not common. People with unusual fears are often ridiculed. As are people with different lifestyles, ethnicity, and beliefs.
 

Related Threads on Are you afraid of the stars?

  • Last Post
Replies
19
Views
5K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
3K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
26
Views
25K
  • Last Post
3
Replies
65
Views
6K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
36
Views
9K
  • Last Post
Replies
22
Views
4K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
36
Views
4K
R
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
3K
Replies
13
Views
3K
Top