Monkey Brain Moments

I was thinking about this yesterday after hearing a discussion on Heart Yorkshire radio about carwashes. DJ Rich was saying that he’s always irrationally scared of the ‘do not break, this will rise automatically’ sign:


The picture of the offending barrier, posted on Heart Yorkshire’s Facebook page is above.

I realised I’ve always had a theory about this kind of irrational fear, I call these moments of terror or confusion at technology ‘monkey brain’ moments. Let me explain

I theorise that we have developed technologies like car-washes and planes and traffic lights faster than we’ve evolved – we can learn to use them, but it’s not innately built in. Some fears we have are evolved fears of heights and spiders for example have been selected as those who possessed them historically had a higher chance of survival.

So, when we encounter something like a car-wash, though we’ve learnt to accept this technology as a safe part of the modern world, I think that on some innate in-built level we are distrustful – hence a ‘monkey brain’ moment (I realise this is disingenuous to monkeys, and I should probably call this a ‘homo erectus’ moment, monkeys are, after all, exactly as evolved as we are and when modern humans didn’t exist, neither did modern monkeys) –  a moment when an old intuitive part of your brain kicks in and says “I don’t trust this”.

I have these regularly myself, especially when handling this set of knives:

My monkey brain really objects to me holding the thin sheath in my hand and sliding in the knife, every single time, it’s like someone is screaming in my head “you’re going to slice straight into your palm!”.
The response to DJ Rich certainly confirmed that many people are scared of car-washes, but does anyone else have another example of a ‘suspicious monkey brain’ episode?

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