Fear of spiders is not evolutionary.

10 Mar

I used to raise spiders in captivity. Had about 3000 at my peak. Lot of work, but not all that scary.

The Prime Directive

Dr. Beetle, an anonymous biologist, has many writings against the quack science evolutionary psychology, but I thought this one was particularly interesting: Fear of spiders not detected in flies! A simple web search shows you how ingrained the belief that fear of spiders is evolutionary is amongst the pop-science crowd, and Dr. Beetle neatly disproves this belief. Like most issues of behavior, it is actually a social construct.

The strongest arachnophobia and fear began in northern Europe, where there was the least threat. Surely this suggests the cause of the fear rode on the back of urbanisation, anthroprudism (more beetle), sterility of mind, and estrangement to insects.

Most indigenous cultures had little or no fear of spiders. The fear is also less common in rural communities than for city dwellers. Some such as the Piaroa Indians of Venezuela happily catch, handle and eat tarantulas. Similarly, a number of tribes from…

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2 Responses to “Fear of spiders is not evolutionary.”

  1. BroadBlogs 2014/03/11 at 12:11 pm #

    So now I’m wondering why you were raising spiders.

    Do you think fear of them could be evolutionary since some of them are poisonous?


    • Miep 2014/03/11 at 2:37 pm #

      I was co-manager of the American Tarantula Society. We raised them largely for sale.

      Technically speaking spiders (most) are venomous. Few are dangerous to humans.

      And having discussed this with umpty-gazillion people, I can tell you the most popular answer to “why do you hate them so much” is “too many legs.”


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