The Science Behind Our Fear of Daleks


If you're familiar with Doctor Who, then you're most certainly also familiar with his mortal enemies, the Daleks. These alien creatures, encapsulated in metallic suits of armor, are such a quintessential part of British culture that hiding behind the couch when the monsters come on TV is practically a rite of passage for children in the UK.  But why do we find something that looks like a trash can with an egg beater and a toilet plunger attached to it to be so utterly terrifying?

A recent study by Cambridge researcher Dr. Robin Bunce has examined the psychology behind this fear and his results say a lot more about human psychology than they do about Doctor Who. Essentially, we're terrified by the aliens because they used to be like us—compassionate, accepting and wise. After surrounding themselves in excess technology though, the Daleks lost all sense of emotion and became robots inside their mechanized suits.

It's a fear that many of us have considered at one time or another. What happens when technology takes over and we become more machine than man? The Daleks remind us that as much as we love the internet and other technological innovations, it is critical that we hold on to the things that make us most human.

[Image courtesy of Reds on Tour's Flickr stream]