Who Fears What

Kevin Drum (continued best wishes and prayers for his health!) draws our attention today to a Chapman University report on Things People Fear. There’s some fun if fairly predictable findings about the particular fears of self-identified Democrats (personal safety, pollution and man-made disasters) and Republicans (today’s youth, the government and immigrants). Beyond that, though, the study suggests a very strong correlation between high levels of fear and three factors: low education levels and high consumption of Talk TV or True Crime TV.

Huh. I’m overeducated and hardly ever watch Talk TV or True Crime TV. And although I wouldn’t call myself especially fearful, I do have reasonably active fears about my personal future (fear of failure, in fact, has always been my chief source of motivation, intense enough to make me a serious workaholic), pollution (and climate change), and for reasons I can’t fathom, clowns (which according to the Champan study seem to rank relatively high on the national fear-o-meter). Actually I don’t so much fear clowns as I actively dislike them.

There’s a decent chance my fear of government will increase after November 4, and then reach pathological levels two years later–along with the fear of war and environmental disaster. But the hostility to clowns is probably a constant.

What do you fear or loathe? Feel free to express yourself in the comment thread. It is, after all, the eve of Halloween.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.