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Big Bang bacteria conundrum

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Big Bang bacteria conundrum
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Duvelthehobbit666User avatarPosts: 1136Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:39 pmLocation: On a pale blue dot Gender: Male

Post Big Bang bacteria conundrum

There might be a few people who have heard of the called the Big Bang Theory. One of the main characters, Sheldon, has a fear of germs. Seeing that Sheldon is very smart, should he not know that not all germs are bad and that getting sick at times is good. It seems funny that someone with that intelligence has such an irrational fear of germs?
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Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:08 pm
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AdmiralPeacockUser avatarPosts: 453Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:31 pmLocation: Australia Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Duvelthehobbit666 wrote:There might be a few people who have heard of the called the Big Bang Theory. One of the main characters, Sheldon, has a fear of germs. Seeing that Sheldon is very smart, should he not know that not all germs are bad and that getting sick at times is good. It seems funny that someone with that intelligence has such an irrational fear of germs?


He also manifests OCD behaviour and a variety of other behavioural disorders - so yeah not such a conundrum.
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Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:32 pm
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MRaverzPosts: 1838Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:00 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

A phobia is, by definition, irrational.
Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:11 am
SquawkModeratorUser avatarPosts: 2011Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:25 pm Gender: Tree

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

I tend to disagree, certain phobias are likely rooted in evolutionary past. Fear of snakes, for example, could easily be transformed into a phobia. Would you call it irrational?
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Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:29 am
MemeticemeticLeague LegendPosts: 659Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:33 amLocation: location, location. Gender: Male

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Squawk wrote:I tend to disagree, certain phobias are likely rooted in evolutionary past. Fear of snakes, for example, could easily be transformed into a phobia. Would you call it irrational?


In a word, yes. Just because we have a decent explanation of the origin of the fear does not make the experience rational. Even more so in the case of a phobia, which is a pathological condition presenting as an overwhelming and debilitating fear to a given stimulus. In other words, it is rational to be wary of snakes, based on knowledge that they can be dangerous. But it is irrational to scream like a nine-year-old girl and curl into a fetal ball at the mere sight of them.
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Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:40 am
MRaverzPosts: 1838Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:00 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Squawk wrote:I tend to disagree, certain phobias are likely rooted in evolutionary past. Fear of snakes, for example, could easily be transformed into a phobia. Would you call it irrational?

This is semantics, but rightly so:

Phobia: An irrational or obsessive fear or anxiety, usually of or about something particular.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/phobia


A fear is not a phobia, a fear is rational and phobia is not. :D
Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:54 am
PulsarUser avatarPosts: 872Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:52 pmLocation: Belgium

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Reminds me of Kurt Gà¶del, who became paranoid and developed an obsessive fear of being poisoned. He eventually starved to death...
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Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:08 am
SquawkModeratorUser avatarPosts: 2011Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:25 pm Gender: Tree

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

For me it's still too subjective. At one point does fear become phobia? It has to be a blurry line. I'd agree that a phobia is likely a misfiring, but if we wish to speak of rationality then fear is irrational. Indeed, emotions are irrational.
Pope Rat: "Exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny."

Squawk response: "O Rly?"
Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:13 am
MRaverzPosts: 1838Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:00 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Squawk wrote:For me it's still too subjective. At one point does fear become phobia? It has to be a blurry line. I'd agree that a phobia is likely a misfiring, but if we wish to speak of rationality then fear is irrational. Indeed, emotions are irrational.

Most definitions tend to be subjective simply because the objective standard we use to determine things is subjectively chosen. That said, I think that if we were to define a phobia as something particularly extreme it could solve the issue. For the snakes example, if there was a snake near you, it would be ok to be a little unnerved. However, if your fear response would put you in more danger (ie. lieing on the ground, crying) it's irrational as a rational fear response would cause you to run away. Alternatively if you spent all day inside, just because there might be a snake this could also be irrational if it was highly unlikely that snakes are outside as it is somewhat irrational to stay indoors on such an unlikely event which holds such a minor negative effect.
Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:50 am
nasher168League LegendUser avatarPosts: 2518Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:34 pmLocation: Derby, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Perhaps a phobia could be defined as a conditioned, fearful response to a stimulus as opposed to a non-conditioned (unconditioned?) fearful response?

For example, I have never had a gun pointed at me. My reaction would be that of fear, but it likely wouldn't be "instinctive" fear of the gun. It would likely be rational and out of knowledge of what that gun could to to me.
Take, however, needles, and we have a different situation. I have had plenty of bad experiences with needles. A fearful response is conditioned into me to such an extent that I was sedated last time I had a simple jab. :facepalm: I know full well how much a jab will hurt and know that I experience more pain on a regular basis. Nevertheless, my response is always overwhelming, conditioned fear despite the rational reaction I know I should have.


Maybe a little too anecdotal?
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Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:54 am
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MemeticemeticLeague LegendPosts: 659Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:33 amLocation: location, location. Gender: Male

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

nasher168 wrote:Perhaps a phobia could be defined as a conditioned, fearful response to a stimulus as opposed to a non-conditioned (unconditioned?) fearful response?

For example, I have never had a gun pointed at me. My reaction would be that of fear, but it likely wouldn't be "instinctive" fear of the gun. It would likely be rational and out of knowledge of what that gun could to to me.
Take, however, needles, and we have a different situation. I have had plenty of bad experiences with needles. A fearful response is conditioned into me to such an extent that I was sedated last time I had a simple jab. :facepalm: I know full well how much a jab will hurt and know that I experience more pain on a regular basis. Nevertheless, my response is always overwhelming, conditioned fear despite the rational reaction I know I should have.


Maybe a little too anecdotal?


Nah. It really can't be defined that way. The precise origins of phobias are not wholly understood so stating that they are only conditioned responses would be over reaching our current understanding. I agree that it would simplify the hell out of our understanding if we could define it that succinctly but, no such luck.

Your examples don't really illustrate a distinction between conditioned and non-conditioned responses, merely degree of fear, or perhaps where they fall on the fear continuum. Take a fear of heights for example. Plenty of acrophobes have no specific traumatic experience with heights but are utterly terrified of the concept or reality. Other acrophobes have legitimate reasons for their fear. Like, say, an asshole uncle, like, say, me, who likes dangling small children out the window for fun.
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Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:13 am
SquawkModeratorUser avatarPosts: 2011Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:25 pm Gender: Tree

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Don't think it can be conditioned, my Mum had no idea she had a frog phobia until gardening a few years ago and one was under a leaf. You could just about of spotted her on radar she jumped so high, not from fear in the normal "jumpy" sense, but an actual phobia of frogs that she never knew she had.
Pope Rat: "Exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny."

Squawk response: "O Rly?"
Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:58 am
SagansHeroesPosts: 201Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:47 am Gender: Tree

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Squawk wrote:For me it's still too subjective. At one point does fear become phobia? It has to be a blurry line. I'd agree that a phobia is likely a misfiring, but if we wish to speak of rationality then fear is irrational. Indeed, emotions are irrational.


While fearing a snake might seem rational in some regards... it loses it's rationality once you come faced with a knowingly harmless snake (and I guess in the case of spiders too).
For example, in New Zealand we have these small jumping spiders (possibly elsewhere too), which are not only harmless, but kind of cute, and jump at great height/lengths to get away from a human.... Fearing spiders that can kill you is a rational response (such as a red back in Australia) but when that same fear becomes applied to something you KNOW cannot harm you... it has essentially become a phobia.

So yes, some phobia's may have a rational evolutionary basis. This is largely due to the fact that in general fear is the most powerful human motivator/evocation (why else would people clutch so ridiculously to religion) but not without a solid evolutionary merit. Because with even a minute amount of critical analysis one can see that the hunters that didn't fear that cute furry lion over the hill got their face eaten off, and didn't spread their DNA.... GOGO natural selection
Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:19 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

As a complete aside; I want to be Sheldon when I grow up.
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:17 pm
obsidianavengerPosts: 840Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:44 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

Squawk wrote:For me it's still too subjective. At one point does fear become phobia? It has to be a blurry line. I'd agree that a phobia is likely a misfiring, but if we wish to speak of rationality then fear is irrational. Indeed, emotions are irrational.


meh it seems like fears can be considered rational to the degree that what you are afraid of is likely to harm you. phobias being irrational because they are all out of proportion to the actual danger being faced...
Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:00 pm
obsidianavengerPosts: 840Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:44 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Big Bang bacteria conundrum

also, this is probably obvious, but a phobia isn't something that you can rationally control as easily as beliefs about other subjects.
Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:02 pm
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