Why people are afraid of spiders (a mathematical equation)

Posted by Jonathan Leeming on 6 March 2013

Ask the average person about their perceptions of spiders and scorpions and you’ll probably get a very negative answer. Deciphering fact from fiction about insects and arachnids can be tricky in today’s information age.

From an early age we are told not to pick up spiders because they will bite us. We hear stories about the venomosity of spiders and scorpions, and poorly written magazine and newspaper articles reporting the ‘facts’ in morbid and graphic detail.

Should we really be afraid of spiders and scorpions?

Hoaxes and misinformation are all around us. Here are a few examples you may have heard:

We swallow eight spiders in our lifetimes while asleep

Spiders lay eggs under our skin and crawl into our ears

All scorpions are deadly venomous, especially the small red ones

Daddy long legs spiders are the most dangerous spider in the world

Spiders transmit diseases and should be killed on sight; the only good scorpion is a dead scorpion

All of these ‘facts’ and perceptions are not true. We have been led to believe that spiders and scorpions are negative factors within the environment that we should be afraid of and we should kill on sight. In reality many of them should be animated characters in a Walt Disney movie.

We constantly receive hoax emails and are bombarded by marketing information telling us how venomous spiders and scorpions are. We are persuaded to buy insecticides and hi-tech ultrasonic devices that claim to save us from these creatures (they do nothing except make our wallets lighter). We have been brainwashed into living in fear of spiders and scorpions but in reality, should we be afraid of them?

The scary equation

The scary equation illustrates why most people are afraid of spiders and scorpions in a nice, simple mathematical formula. Luckily for many people, I cannot run fast.

As you can see, you do not have to be Einstein to work out the answer. All these characteristics that instill fear are not based upon any kind of fact or reason. We create this phobia in our own minds. Spiders and scorpions do not lurk in dark corners waiting to jump out us. They do not bite and sting us for no reason. There is no reason to move your bed away from the wall.

The reality is that they are nothing to be afraid of, nor persecuted nor even reviled. They are simply part of the natural scheme of things just like an antelope, plants, sunshine and rainfall. For those of you who are afraid of these enigmatic creatures, I can recommend a good psychologist.


What’s your opinion? Are you afraid of scorpions and spiders, or do you just let them be?


Visit  www.scorpions.co.za for more information.