Irrational is defined by Merriam Webster as, “not governed by or according to reason;” irrational fears are therefore when someone is afraid of something despite most reasonable scenarios proving that it cannot exist. Throughout the years there have been cases of mass irrational fears gripping the world or the nation. Towards the end of the tenth century, there was fear that the world would end in the year 1000. With the approach of Halley’s Comet in 1910, an irrational fear gripped the world when it was discovered that there was traces of cyanide in the comet’s tail. The list of irrational fears changes and we change, but there are always some things that people fear without reason or rational cause.
Muslims Are Terrorists
Muslims are evil and have the stated purpose of destroying the West and the Great Satan, the United States, in particular. Ever since the War on Terror started many people who are not Islamic hear many evils of this religion, and while there are a very vocal minority who truly believe this, the majority of Muslims are just like everyone else in America. They live, work, love, and practice their faith in peace, not wishing harm on others. Unfortunately, those people are not the ones who are newsworthy, only the ones who shout, “Death to America,” make the headlines, and this leads impressional people to irrational fears about Muslims.
One World Government
Ask any one of a number of conspiracy theorists about the United Nations and they will tell you that the stated goal of the UN is to institute “One World Government” and destroy American traditions and institutions. While a very valid argument could be made that the UN does not hold America’s best interests, any attempt to replace the United States with something else would have to go through the Security Council, where the United States has veto power. It is very unlikely that the ambassador would vote to allow the destruction of the country. Even if that happened, the Senate would have to approve the treaty to destroy the nation.
End of America
When George W. Bush was elected in 2000, liberals in this country bemoaned the end of the nation and when Barack H. Obama was elected in 2008, conservatives bemoaned the same thing, but the country is still here. The only time there was a real risk of the loss of the country following a presidential election was in 1860, and the likelihood of another secession crisis is remote. Historically, all nations fall eventually, with nations built around people failing quicker than nations built around institutions, and it is very difficult to historically point to a single moment when the nation fell. The Roman Empire died sometime between the second and fifth centuries, but the rotting husk lasted for centuries longer. It may well be true that our country has reached the point of no return, but fearing that it will end tomorrow is irrational.
Global pandemics make for a great story. In 1949, George Stewart wrote Earth Abides which depicted the aftermath of a disease that killed well over 99 percent of the human population. Since then, this topic has been a common plot device, but fiction notwithstanding, the last global pandemic was the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed three percent of the world’s population. While it was still a massive amount, it was no where near what would be expected to wipe out humanity. Even with the increased connectivity of the world, there has never been a disease that killed that many people, and any fear that one will appear is irrational.
Perhaps the most irrational fear that abounds currently was first popularized in the 1954 novel, I am Legend, and has been thrust into the mainstream recently with AMC’s popular series, The Walking Dead. Zombies, as popular fiction depicts, do not exist and more so, there is no way they could exist, according to current understanding of biology. Despite that the “Zombie Apocalypse” has gripped the nation; thankfully most people view it comically. Alas, there are those out there who are convinced that this is the way humanity will end, and of course, that fear is very irrational.
The debate as to why some people are susceptible to irrational fears, often to the point of being unable to function, will rage on for many years, but it is an unquestionable fact that some people do fear irrationally. The best hope anyone has is to reassure and attempt to explain that someone’s fear will not come to pass.
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Denise Wilson is a family counselor and blogger who has written guides to top online mental health degree programs.