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Connection between fear of snakes and the alien cultural phenomena.

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Upon the reading of another thread that is discussing aliens attacking our civilization, I recalled some recent threads I have posted in. http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/77946-snakes/

 

Just heard this on NPR on the way home from work.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/28/241370496/eeek-snake-your-brain-has-a-special-corner-just-for-them

 

Anthropologist Lynne Isbell turned a chance encounter with a cobra into a discovery that primates possess an evolutionary modification directly connected to our predator and prey relationship with snakes.

 

"We have our forward-facing eyes," she says. "We have our excellent depth perception. We have very good visual acuity, the best in the mammalian world. We have color vision. So there has to be some sort of explanation for it."

 

Primates in parts of the world with lots of poisonous snakes evolved better vision than primates elsewhere. . . .The researchers measured the activity of individual brain cells while showing the monkeys images of snakes, faces, hands and simple geometric shapes. And the researchers found something remarkable in the pulvinar, a part of the brain's visual system that's unique to people, apes and monkeys.

"There are neurons that are very sensitive to snake images and much more sensitive to them than the faces of primates," Isbell says of that brain region. That's surprising, she says, because monkeys and other primates have brains that are highly sensitive to faces.

 

"This part of the visual system appears to be the sort of quicker, automatic visual system that allows us to respond without even being consciously aware of the object that we are responding to," she says.

 

What Isbell's study does suggest is that both monkeys and humans have evolved brains that are well prepared to learn to fear snakes, Mineka says. "It's identifying a possible mechanism because there is a distinct neural signature that could then be associated with threat."

 

I have formed an idea that possibly this phenomena of aliens in all of their manifestations within our world culture are linked to this primordial development in our brains, and for lack of a better analogy a "snake radar" like subconscious reaction by this above defined evolutionary holdover. Could it be driving these experiences that people have about abductions and sighting of these green aliens, an over compensation by the brain to stress and other psychological and physiological pressures.

 

I don't know if this has already been considered by anyone. I did a search on SFN and Google but found nothing. I may have simply seen this somewhere else though.

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Well, there is a whole class of ET fixation called 'reptilians', and perhaps those would be better images to post than those of the 'grays'.

 

Then too, there is a widespread fear of spiders in humans and I don't off-hand recall any spider alien stories so I don't think you can lay the alien phenom to snakes. Before aliens were all the rage, folks were seeing, being probed, and otherwise sensing visitations by angels, ghosties, demons and the like.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

source: http://www.heise.de/ix/raven/Literature/Lore/TheRaven.html

 

Fear of spiders is universal

...A fear of spiders, or arachnophobia, is one of the most common phobias described in humans. And most humans are innately attuned to identifying images of spiders within the normal visual noise that fills our daily lives. One study found that the general population identifies images of spiders more quickly than those of peaceful things like mushrooms or flowers, and arachnophobes are particularly adept at picking out the spiders from a melee of images. ...

source: http://www.hpj.com/archives/2012/mar12/mar26/0301UniversalFearofSpiders1.cfm

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Well, according to the link, the fear of snakes is fairly well supported by the research as being a hardwired evolutionary holdover of the human brain. Check out the other SFN thread and the link. It is unlike any other "irrational" fear that humans have, those monkeys had never seen a snake in any situation, yet their vision center's pulvinar, reacted to the visual stimuli with a greater regard than any other. Certain people who have no geographic or historic experience with snakes will have an over reaction to snake stimuli. Even an inanimate object that remotely resembles a snake may induce a highly irrational response.

 

The theory goes that as hominids evolved better vision the snakes evolved better camouflage. In response to this our vision center looked for certain key recognition signals that the brain would quickly react to, rather than just stare and try to define what is maybe directly in front of them. The brain developed a hardwired template for snakes to initiate a reaction long before it could visualize the snake.

 

My idea is this leftover evolutionary attribute is what allows people to fill in the blanks with regards to the alien physiology that we know so well within our culture. It is the vision center overriding the conscious brain in these subjects, an hallucination originating from the a stimuli in the pulvinar that the mind takes and quickly constructs the image from. This would explain the rather standard uniformity of the aliens, similar yet different in each case. A construct of the imagination of each individual or in some cases the group, but using the template subconsciously to highly standardize the hallucination.

 

This seems a more logical answer to the variation of alien physiology than the Earth is simply a rest stop or roadside attraction along some intergalactic superhighway. ^_^

Edited by arc

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Well, according to the link, the fear of snakes is fairly well supported by the research as being a hardwired evolutionary holdover of the human brain.

...

This seems a more logical answer to the variation of alien physiology than the Earth is simply a rest stop or roadside attraction along some intergalactic superhighway. ^_^

I don't discount the evolutionary holdover of aversion to snakes, only that it applies as well to spiders as to snakes. Yet, as I said, we don't see many spider aliens. The 'aliens abducted me' business is more rooted in other psychological phenomena than aversion to animals.

 

Evolution Of Aversion: Why Even Children Are Fearful Of Snakes

...LoBue and DeLoache explain that their study does not prove an innate fear of snakes, only that humans, including young children, seem to have an innate ability to quickly identify a snake from among other things. One of their previous studies indicated that humans also have a profound ability to identify spiders from among non-threatening flora and fauna. Lobue has also shown that people are very good at quickly detecting threats of many types, including aggressive facial expressions. ...

source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080227121840.htm

 

PS One of the links in the thread you mention here is an article harshly critical of the 'fear of snakes' meme.

http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/03/07/innate-fear-of-snakes/

...

In fact, Hinde’s approach to fear of snakes is far more measured than DeLoache and LoBue, even using some of the same terms (like ‘predisposition’) and he doesn’t rely quite so much on the idea that evolution programmed us with some sort of innate fear (that some people don’t seem to demonstrate). Hinde argues that humans are ‘predisposed to acquire a fear of snakes,’ not that such a fear is inherent in being human: ‘Anecdotal evidence suggests that the extent of the fear shown is much influenced by social referencing – the child looks at others, and especially at a trusted other, and models his or her response to the situation according to the response of that other.’

...

The reptilian humanoid-ish meme is as old as story telling, so social-referencing seems a more logical argument over any evolutionary/genetic connection.

 

Reptilians @ Wiki >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reptilians

Edited by Acme

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Hey Acme,

 

That link you posted, http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/03/07/innate-fear-of-snakes/, is from March 7, 2008. It expressed the general understanding at the time that suggested and expressed ambiguity as to a mechanism.

 

"The final problem that ‘innate’ brings up is the question of the mechanism that produced the trait. In much of the discussion, there’s an assumption that there must be a ‘gene for’ something if it is ‘universal’ and ‘innate’ (although I find no evidence of genetic explanations in the fear of snakes story). In fact, there’s never much discussion of the actual mechanism that might turn an alleged gene into an innate trait. What sort of protein might produce fear of snakes? What parts of the brain would it interact with? Do we see any mutations of it that produce other similar phenomena? In other words, there’s a ‘black boxing’ of mechanisms, an unwillingness to think about how the trait might actually arise in a developmental context or function in an organism."

 

 

This new research appears to provide such a mechanism.

http://www.npr.org/b...r-just-for-them

 

And the researchers found something remarkable in the pulvinar, a part of the brain's visual system that's unique to people, apes and monkeys.

"There are neurons that are very sensitive to snake images and much more sensitive to them than the faces of primates"

 

The new study appears to explain Mineka's own research showing that even monkeys raised in labs where there are no snakes can quickly learn to fear the reptiles. But it's still unclear whether the brain response of the monkeys in this study showed they were truly afraid of snakes or just had an innate ability to recognize the potentially venomous reptiles.

 

Your reference to reptilians lead me to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reptilian_humanoids

 

"The list of Reptilian humanoids in world mythology" from the above link shows that there has been an unbroken chain of human experience with these apparitions. A hallucination would be the likely precursor to the creation of a mythological reptilian humanoid/god. A continuity from our earliest historical memory would support this idea of a biologic/evolutionary source for hallucinations involving green reptilian like creatures. For people to have such a historical context to this, as you said meme, would suggest our human ancestors had the same hallucinations, and I would suggest that they may originate in the same "pulvinar, a part of the brain's visual system that's unique to people, apes and monkeys."

Edited by arc

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Hey Acme,

 

 

That link you posted, http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/03/07/innate-fear-of-snakes/, is from March 7, 2008. It expressed the general understanding at the time that suggested and expressed ambiguity as to a mechanism.

 

"The final problem that innate brings up is the question of the mechanism that produced the trait. In much of the discussion, theres an assumption that there must be a gene for something if it is universal and innate (although I find no evidence of genetic explanations in the fear of snakes story). In fact, theres never much discussion of the actual mechanism that might turn an alleged gene into an innate trait. What sort of protein might produce fear of snakes? What parts of the brain would it interact with? Do we see any mutations of it that produce other similar phenomena? In other words, theres a black boxing of mechanisms, an unwillingness to think about how the trait might actually arise in a developmental context or function in an organism."[/size]

 

This new research appears to provide such a mechanism.

http://www.npr.org/b...r-just-for-them

 

And the researchers found something remarkable in the pulvinar, a part of the brain's visual system that's unique to people, apes and monkeys.

"There are neurons that are very sensitive to snake images and much more sensitive to them than the faces of primates"

 

The new study appears to explain Mineka's own research showing that even monkeys raised in labs where there are no snakes can quickly learn to fear the reptiles. But it's still unclear whether the brain response of the monkeys in this study showed they were truly afraid of snakes or just had an innate ability to recognize the potentially venomous reptiles.

 

Your reference to reptilians lead me to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reptilian_humanoids

 

"The list of Reptilian humanoids in world mythology" from the above link shows that there has been an unbroken chain of human experience with these apparitions. A hallucination would be the likely precursor to the creation of a mythological reptilian humanoid/god. A continuity from our earliest historical memory would support this idea of a biologic/evolutionary source for hallucinations involving green reptilian like creatures. For people to have such a historical context to this, as you said meme, would suggest our human ancestors had the same hallucinations, and I would suggest that they may originate in the same "pulvinar, a part of the brain's visual system that's unique to people, apes and monkeys."

 

Hey Arc,

Acknowledge all. Spoiled it just to shorten the page.

 

The Abstract on the pulvinar region only mentions its association with visual attention function so I don't see it supporting your assertion. As to the other article, it seems rather full of "probably's", "appears", "suggests" and other such hedgers as go to embellish an inconclusive proposition.

 

Since we're talking about alien/apparition visitations here I suppose one guess is as good as another.

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The Abstract on the pulvinar region only mentions its association with visual attention function so I don't see it supporting your assertion. As to the other article, it seems rather full of "probably's", "appears", "suggests" and other such hedgers as go to embellish an inconclusive proposition.

Hey, I'm setting out a pretty low bar to clear here. All I have to find is a reasonable physical instigator to a fairly rare but rather specific hallucination phenomena. :)

 

With all of the similarity between these accounts it is essential to find a physiologic mechanism to counter the rather dubious claims of so many alien "nationalities" needed to be accounted for, not only in the numbers of alien encounters, but also the variation in their physical appearance. A true mechanism for these no doubt hallucinations would diminish the credibility many people give to these incidences.

 

 

 

Since we're talking about alien/apparition visitations here I suppose one guess is as good as another.

 

Agreed. ^_^

Edited by arc

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:doh:

Hey, I'm setting out a pretty low bar to clear here. All I have to find is a reasonable physical instigator to a fairly rare but rather specific hallucination phenomena. :)

 

With all of the similarity between these accounts it is essential to find a physiologic mechanism to counter the rather dubious claims of so many alien "nationalities" needed to be accounted for, not only in the numbers of alien encounters, but also the variation in their physical appearance. A true mechanism for these no doubt hallucinations would diminish the credibility many people give to these incidences.

Agreed. ^_^

 

You low-barring me again? :lol: I think we can as easily limbo under social conditioning and its mechanism(s) to arrive at similarities in descriptions of aliens/apparitions. Once the first snake was out of the bag, every cigar was a snake. :doh:

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You low-barring me again? :lol: I think we can as easily limbo under social conditioning and its mechanism(s) to arrive at similarities in descriptions of aliens/apparitions. Once the first snake was out of the bag, every cigar was a snake. :doh:

 

OK then, the transition of a mythical reptilian creature in ancient times to the iconic alien in the modern era is the product of a broad social construct? I'm going to need some details on this. You're not going to win this that easy. ^_^

Edited by arc

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UFOs are IMHO a manifestation of the primal fear of the "other" ...

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UFOs are IMHO a manifestation of the primal fear of the "other" ...

 

Finely, where have you been? :) OK, that's to vague, why mostly green and black eyes. Why not red or? How does this stay rather uniform over thousands of episodes. And if tied to those ancient mythical reptilian humanoids, what dove the continuity through the ages.

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Finely, where have you been? :) OK, that's to vague, why mostly green and black eyes. Why not red or? How does this stay rather uniform over thousands of episodes. And if tied to those ancient mythical reptilian humanoids, what dove the continuity through the ages.

 

 

Good question, difficult to answer with some rather extreme speculation. I have read, I can't remember right off hand where, that they image of the huge eyes is a birth memory of the first human face the baby sees and is distorted by the new unfocused eyes...

I am one of those people who has the OBE experiences from time to time and sometimes there are little grey guys involved, terrified me as a child. I understand intellectually they have no basis in reality but when it happens it is quite real, it's been a few years since this happened but it runs in my family with my mom and grandma having the same experiences but they saw them as demons...

Oh yeah, my vision is distorted during these episodes, everything is fuzzy, wavy, fluid. My wife says my eyes are only partially open when i am undergoing this experience and my eyes rapidly move back and forth...

 

I can honestly say that during at least a few OBEs i saw real people and events that i was able to confirm later which makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck but it has happened to seldom it could be coincidence.. .

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Finely, where have you been? :) OK, that's to vague, why mostly green and black eyes. Why not red or? How does this stay rather uniform over thousands of episodes. And if tied to those ancient mythical reptilian humanoids, what dove the continuity through the ages.

In a word, myths. Medusa, snake in Eden, St. George and his dragon, yada yada yada you pick the tail. Erhm...tale. :lol: Told & retold for millennia and no sign of it stopping. In my End is my Beginning. See Ouroboros. >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros

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Good question, difficult to answer with some rather extreme speculation. I have read, I can't remember right off hand where, that they image of the huge eyes is a birth memory of the first human face the baby sees and is distorted by the new unfocused eyes...

I am one of those people who has the OBE experiences from time to time and sometimes there are little grey guys involved, terrified me as a child. I understand intellectually they have no basis in reality but when it happens it is quite real, it's been a few years since this happened but it runs in my family with my mom and grandma having the same experiences but they saw them as demons...

Oh yeah, my vision is distorted during these episodes, everything is fuzzy, wavy, fluid. My wife says my eyes are only partially open when i am undergoing this experience and my eyes rapidly move back and forth...

 

I can honestly say that during at least a few OBEs i saw real people and events that i was able to confirm later which makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck but it has happened to seldom it could be coincidence.. .

 

 

Your experience really fits this phenomena well. I'm really grateful to you for sharing this. When I was a kid I experienced night terrors from age 4 or 5 to maybe 10 or 11. They were enough to get me out of bed screaming and running from one to several ambiguous figures, other times it was just a rather fuzzy light source. One time I jumped down a complete flight of stairs because my tormentors were hot on my tail, I knocked my mother backwards as she caught me at the bottom stair. She and I landed on my dad who was standing behind her. These episodes were quite realistic and involve highly detailed hallucinations. This is why I tend to default to these explanations, I know their power over ones faculties.

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Your experience really fits this phenomena well. I'm really grateful to you for sharing this. When I was a kid I experienced night terrors from age 4 or 5 to maybe 10 or 11. They were enough to get me out of bed screaming and running from one to several ambiguous figures, other times it was just a rather fuzzy light source. One time I jumped down a complete flight of stairs because my tormentors were hot on my tail, I knocked my mother backwards as she caught me at the bottom stair. She and I landed on my dad who was standing behind her. These episodes were quite realistic and involve highly detailed hallucinations. This is why I tend to default to these explanations, I know their power over ones faculties.

 

 

When ever I read about "personal experiences" I have to defer to this as well...

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When ever I read about "personal experiences" I have to defer to this as well...

 

I'm still not satisfied with Acme's more cultural explanation. This would have to be "locked in" very early in human history and distributed in each branching-off segment of migration while staying strongly within each continually evolving tribal group to finally end up in so many ancient civilizations. And all that seems a long ways away from some guy in Kansas that see's a green alien on a deserted road at 3 am.

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I'm still not satisfied with Acme's more cultural explanation. This would have to be "locked in" very early in human history and distributed in each branching-off segment of migration while staying strongly within each continually evolving tribal group to finally end up in so many ancient civilizations. And all that seems a long ways away from some guy in Kansas that see's a green alien on a deserted road at 3 am.

 

 

yeah and getting an anal probe, and some cultures see completely different beings as well

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I think Acme's explanation has some merit, different cultures do see different things, South Americans are morelikely to see little hairy dwarf and the sexual nature is usually a beautiful female alien actually seducing a human rather an anal probe... Hmmm might be something to this anal probe thing... Hmmmm

Edited by Moontanman

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I'm still not satisfied with Acme's more cultural explanation. This would have to be "locked in" very early in human history and distributed in each branching-off segment of migration while staying strongly within each continually evolving tribal group to finally end up in so many ancient civilizations. And all that seems a long ways away from some guy in Kansas that see's a green alien on a deserted road at 3 am.

See Serpent symbolism @ Wiki. >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpent_(symbolism)

 

How far is Genesis from your guy in Kansas? Why it's within spittin' distance. Then there is Gilgamesh -arguably the oldest written story extant- from which Genesis borrows liberally. Yup; snakes in Gilgamesh too. How about the kiddies & Aesop's Snake & the Farmer? Yup; still a goin'. Kipling's Kaa? Ssssssneaky!

 

Perusing my link above we find no corner of the world un-slithered.

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Upon the reading of another thread that is discussing aliens attacking our civilization, I recalled some recent threads I have posted in. http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/77946-snakes/

 

 

I have formed an idea that possibly this phenomena of aliens in all of their manifestations within our world culture are linked to this primordial development in our brains, and for lack of a better analogy a "snake radar" like subconscious reaction by this above defined evolutionary holdover. Could it be driving these experiences that people have about abductions and sighting of these green aliens, an over compensation by the brain to stress and other psychological and physiological pressures.

 

I don't know if this has already been considered by anyone. I did a search on SFN and Google but found nothing. I may have simply seen this somewhere else though.

Well I am not sure you can say that is the only reason. Fear based on trauma is not the only reason to fear snakes. Snakes just like a lot of spiders and insects are dangerous. A snake bite can kill you, a snakes jaw can stretch so they could put things much larger than itself into its stomach, and some snakes are constrictors. So they basically squeeze the prey too death. So if you think about it being afraid of snakes and spiders is a very reasonable fear. Also if you do not know how to identify spiders, insects, or snakes correctly you do not know how dangerous it is. So simply destroying or avoiding them all seems like a solution when you just do not have enough knowledge to pick which ones are safe. So you get the over all fear that "They are all bad and dangerous and we need to stay away". Fear stops you from doing things which might cause yourself harm. Irrational fear stops you from causing yourself perceived harm but it might not be as dangerous as you perceive it to be.

Edited by Marshalscienceguy

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I think Acme's explanation has some merit, different cultures do see different things, South Americans are morelikely to see little hairy dwarf and the sexual nature is usually a beautiful female alien actually seducing a human rather an anal probe... Hmmm might be something to this anal probe thing... Hmmmm

 

I don't think that got started until they began receiving episodes of Star Trek - "To boldly go where no man has gone before"

post-88603-0-49350700-1396478051.jpg

Dammit Jim! I'm a doctor not a miracle worker!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typo repair

Edited by arc

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