What is it that makes people love to be scared?  The science of fear has now been studied on a whole new level and available for all in Dr. Margee Kerr’s new book Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear.  The fascinating aspect of her work, is that her lab isn’t in a sterile white room, but rather one of America’s scariest haunted houses.  She has had numerous test subjects enter the “Scarehouse” in Downtown Pittsburg and is able to use their reactions to fine tune the art of scare.  Dr. Kerr notes, “A haunted house is all about manipulating and violating your prediction systems.”  Isn’t this so true?  Aren’t we the most startled when things appear either out of place or unexpected?  We can walk down a street and pass hundreds of strangers and not think much of it, but imagine sitting in your home and seeing just one stranger appear down the hall. My son has always enjoyed snakes and for many years we had a number of different snakes that lived with us.  We would hold them and allow them to slither around our necks.  They were honestly some of the best pets ever!  However, if I were hiking and accidentally encountered a benign garter snake, you can bet I would have come unglued!  So, I guess the magic in being scared, is truly in the element of surprise – that which is unpredictable.   For those of you that love to be scared… happy haunting to you!  And for us milder folks, at least we can enjoy the treats 🙂

Art credit: Cy Ott