The Jeff Wise Blog

Things to Be Afraid Of, New York City Edition

It’s funny, the sorts of things that people are afraid of: clowns, bugs, the number 13. But what’s just as funny is all the things that people aren’t afraid of that can actually kill them.

The New York Times ran a fascinating article yesterday about New York City’s recently released mortality statistics, which runs down in some detail what citydwellers die of.

Some are claimed by the sea: In 2007, four people were killed in watercraft accidents, including two men who died when their fishing boat struck a cable stretched between a tugboat and a barge near Coney Island. Fourteen more drowned that year. Some fall victim to the weather: 10 died of exposure to excessive natural heat in 2008; 11 others died of exposure to the cold…

The number of ways to go is almost limitless. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Phobias

Stuff of Nightmares, Pt. 2: Shark Attack Quiz

Hopefully this information will never be relevant to you, but here goes: if you’re ever attacked and eaten by a shark, what part of your body is most likely to be found? Go ahead, chew that over. The answer is after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Phobias

Stuff of Nightmares, Pt. 1: Parasitic Tongue

This little beastie is an 1-inch-long isopod called Cymothoa exigua. Its unique lifestyle involves fastening itself to the inside of a fish’s mouth and then gradually devouring the tongue, slowly replacing the organ with its own body, so that the fish winds up with a fully functioning artifical tongue made out of parasite. For a more in-depth explanation, see this nice article at

Filed under: Phobias

Interviews with the Author

Thinking About Fear & the Brain

If I find myself in a severe crisis, will I be able to keep it together? How can I control anxiety and panic? Is it possible to lead a life less bounded by fear? These are the sorts of questions that I'll be exploring in this blog, an offshoot of my book, Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, published on December 8, 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Video Introduction

Also by Jeff Wise