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The Dark Is Scary

The Dark Is Scary

Every week, the Null dissects the most self-evident studies and pointless papers not to hit the headlines. It's harsh, but funny. This week, who's afraid of the dark? Not Andrew Impey, and that's for sure.

Most scientists are decent, hard-working, upstanding people. There are, however, a few who are obviously in the research game just for kicks. Take the team from the US National Institute of Mental Health, for instance, who have spent the last few years putting people into darkened rooms and then frightening them. Why? To see if they would get frightened.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the team found that people are a bit more jumpy in the dark than they are when it’s nice and light. Furthermore if you’re already feeling a bit edgy – say you’ve been in a stressful public situation – you tend to react more to a startling event.

There is an upside to all this according to the research team. We no longer have to feel bad about leaping out of our skins when we’re staggering home on Halloween and are accosted by a group of trick or treaters. “Just remember,” they say “that it’s normal to jump when someone shouts ‘Boo!’.”

More from the dark side of science:

Girls Join The Dark Side
  How It Works: Dark Matter
AtoZ: B is for Black Hole
  Don't Drink, Sleep & Drive
Or why not try another study of the bleedin' obvious?

Studies of the Bleedin' Obvious is reproduced from the Null's column in the Daily Telegraph.

Image: Rob Harry

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07 Jul 2011
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