Monday, September 16, 2013
Survey shows even scientists who study bugs for a living can suffer from arachnophobia, the fear of spiders.
If anyone should know not to freak out over a teensy little spider, it's a scientist. But as it turns out, even people who study bugs for a living can suffer from arachnophobia.
Rick Vetter is a leading spider scientist and a retired UC Riverside researcher. For the latest issue of American Entomologist, he conducted a survey to find out how common the fear of spiders is among entomologists.
He got dozens of responses from insect researchers showing varying degrees of arachnophobia. Some reported only a mild aversion. But Vetter said others were so scared by spiders, they couldn't possibly handle them in the lab.
"Another person who works with maggots said she would rather grab a handful of maggots than get close enough to a spider to kill it," he said.
Vetter thinks these phobias are often instilled at a young age. That could account for why even hyper-rational scientists can sometimes have such an irrational fear of spiders.