Why Clowns Like the ‘Joker’ Give us the Creeps

Why Clowns Like the 'Joker' Give us the Creeps

Hollywood has long exploited our deep ambivalence about clowns, and this fall’s film lineup is no different.

Batman’s demented nemesis The Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is the antihero of his origin story, “Joker,” which opened in theaters on Oct. 4. In September, Stephen King’s evil clown, Pennywise, made his second screen appearance in two years in “It Chapter Two.”


How did a mainstay of children’s birthday parties start to become an embodiment of pure evil?


In fact, a 2008 study conducted in England revealed that very few children actually like clowns. It also concluded that the common practice of decorating children’s wards in hospitals with pictures of clowns may create the exact opposite of a nurturing environment. It’s no wonder so many people hate Ronald McDonald.


But as a psychologist, I’m not just interested in pointing out that clowns give us the creeps; I’m also interested in why we find them so disturbing. In 2016, I published a study entitled “On the Nature of Creepiness” with one of my students, Sara Koehnke, in the journal New Ideas in Psychology. While the study was not specifically looking at the creepiness of clowns, much of what we discovered can help explain this intriguing phenomenon.
The march of the clowns


Clown-like characters have been around for thousands of years. Historically, jesters and clowns have been a vehicle for satire and for poking fun at powerful people. They provided a safety valve for letting off steam and they were granted unique freedom of expression — as long as their value as entertainers outweighed the discomfort, they caused the higher-ups.


Jesters and others persons of ridicule go back at least to ancient Egypt, and the English word “clown” first appeared sometime in the 1500s, when Shakespeare used the term to describe foolish characters in several of his plays. The now familiar circus clown — with its painted face, wig and oversized clothing — arose in the 19th century and has changed only slightly over the past 150 years.
Nor is the trope of the evil clown anything new. In 2016, writer Benjamin Radford published “Bad Clowns,” in which he traces the historical evolution of clowns into unpredictable, menacing creatures.


The persona of the creepy clown really came into its own after serial killer John Wayne Gacy was captured. In the 1970s, Gacy appeared at children’s birthday parties as “Pogo the Clown” and also regularly painted pictures of clowns. When the authorities discovered that he had killed at least 33 people, burying most of them in the crawl space of his suburban Chicago home, the connection between clowns and dangerous psychopathic behavior became forever fixed in the collective unconscious of Americans.
Then, for several months in 2016, creepy clowns terrorized America.


Reports emerged from at least 10 different states. In Florida, fiendish clowns were spotted lurking by the side of the road. In South Carolina, clowns were reportedly trying to lure women and children into the woods.
It isn’t clear which of these incidents were tales of clowning around and which were truly menacing abduction attempts. Nonetheless, the perpetrators seem to be tapping into the primal dread that so many children — and more than a few adults — experience in the presence of clowns.


The nature of creepiness


Psychology can help explain why clowns — the supposed purveyors of jokes and pranks — often end up sending chills down our spines.
My research was the first empirical study of creepiness, and I had a hunch that feeling creeped out might have something to do with ambiguity — about not really being sure how to react to a person or situation.
We recruited 1,341 volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 77 to fill out an online survey. In the first section of the survey, our participants rated the likelihood that a hypothetical “creepy person” would exhibit 44 different behaviors, such as unusual patterns of eye contact or physical characteristics like visible tattoos. In the second section of the survey, participants rated the creepiness of 21 different occupations, and in the third section they simply listed two hobbies that they thought were creepy. In the final section, participants noted how much they agreed with 15 statements about the nature of creepy people.
The results indicated that people we perceive as creepy are much more likely to be males than females, that unpredictability is an important component of creepiness and that unusual patterns of eye contact and other nonverbal behaviors set off our creepiness detectors big time.


Unusual or strange physical characteristics such as bulging eyes, a peculiar smile or inordinately long fingers did not, in and of themselves, cause us to perceive someone as creepy. But the presence of weird physical traits can amplify any other creepy tendencies that the person might be exhibiting, such as persistently steering conversations toward peculiar sexual topics or failing to understand the policy about bringing reptiles into the office.
When we asked people to rate the creepiness of different occupations, the one that rose to the top of the creep list was — you guessed it — clowns.


The results were consistent with my theory that getting “creeped out” is a response to the ambiguity of threat and that it is only when we are confronted with uncertainty about threat that we get the chills.
For example, it would be considered rude and strange to run away in the middle of a conversation with someone who is sending out a creepy vibe but is actually harmless; at the same time, it could be perilous to ignore your intuition and engage with that individual if he is, in fact, a threat. The ambivalence leaves you frozen in place, wallowing in discomfort.
This reaction could be adaptive, something humans have evolved to feel, with being “creeped out” a way to maintain vigilance during a situation that could be dangerous.


Why clowns set off our creep alert


In light of our study’s results, it is not at all surprising that we find them to be creepy.
Rami Nader is a Canadian psychologist who studies coulrophobia, the irrational fear of clowns. Nader believes that clown phobias are fueled by the fact that clowns wear makeup and disguises that hide their true identities and feelings.
This is perfectly consistent with my hypothesis that it is the inherent ambiguity surrounding clowns that make them creepy. They seem to be happy, but are they really? And they’re mischievous, which puts people constantly on guard. People interacting with a clown during one of his routines never know if they are about to get a pie in the face or be the victim of some other humiliating prank. The highly unusual physical characteristics of the clown — the wig, the red nose, the makeup, the odd clothing — only magnify the uncertainty of what the clown might do next.


There are certainly other types of people who creep us out; taxidermists and undertakers made a good showing on the creepy occupation spectrum. But they have their work cut out for them if they aspire to the level of creepiness that we automatically attribute to clowns.
In other words, they have big shoes to fill.



Contributor: The Conversation-CNN Health


Here’s Why Zantac Was Pulled From Stores, And What You Should Do Now

Here's Why Zantac Was Pulled From Stores, And What You Should Do Now

By now, you may have seen the headlinesthat major drugstore retailers like CVS and Walgreens have been pulling Zantac off of shelves due to certain versions of the heartburn medication containing potentially cancer-causing ingredients.
The pharmacy chains announced this week that they were no longer selling the product after the Food and Drug Administration issued a statement in mid-September saying that Zantac and its generic form, ranitidine, may contain low levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a nitrosamine impurity. According to the FDA, NDMA has been classified as a probable human carcinogen based on laboratory test results.
 
 
The FDA had been investigating the occurrence of NDMA and other impurities in some blood pressure and heart failure medicines (mainly angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs). After recognizing nitrosamine impurities in these products, the organization recommended several recalls on specific batches of those drugs. Now, the FDA has discovered that NDMA has been found in certain batches of ranitidine drugs, which are commonly taken to treat ulcers and heartburn.
 
 
So, how does all of this affect you? And should you be concerned if you’ve taken the medication recently? Here’s what you should know, according to experts.
 
 
First, a little primer on the major ways NDMA can be damaging.
 
 
As mentioned above, NDMA is considered to be a carcinogen. James Brian Byrd, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said research has shown that ingesting NDMA could potentially put people at risk for disease.
 
“In animals, it has been found to have the potential to cause cancer,” he said. “NDMA is found in some foods and even in water at times, but it is certainly unfortunate that it has been in a variety of drug products since July 2018, including now some ranitidine products,” he explained.
 
 
So how does the NDMA in food and water compare to drugs like ranitidine in terms of our health? According to Niket Sonpal, a New York-based internist and gastroenterologist and adjunct professor at Touro College, it’s all about the amount in the medicine and what experts know about it (which, right now, isn’t much).
 
 
“NDMA is found in food in small doses. The difference between finding it in foods at low levels and finding it in drugs is that testing needs to be done to make sure that there aren’t bigger amounts of impurities seeping into the formulas for these medications,” Sonpal said. “Whereas, generally speaking, the amount of NDMA in food and drink stays low.”
 
And it’s not just Zantac and other related heartburn medicines that have been affected by NDMA contamination.
 
 
 
Sonpal said that NDMA was one of the chemicals behind the recall of medications like Losartan, which is used to treat high blood pressure, over the past year.
 
 
He added that in addition to being a potential cause of cancer, “overexposure to NDMA can cause yellowing of the skin, nausea, fever, vomiting and dizziness.”
 
 
Here are the details on why the medication was pulled.
 
 
 
The FDA ― which noted that NDMA can be found in “water and foods, including meats, dairy products and vegetables” ― said that “although NDMA may cause harm in large amounts, the levels in ranitidine from preliminary tests barely exceed amounts you might expect to find in common foods.” The organization added that it is currently investigating whether or not these low levels of NDMA in ranitidine are enough to pose a risk to patients and will post the results of its findings when available.
 
 
So why the pull if there were only small traces of NDMA? Simply put, when drug manufacturers issued recalls, drugstore chains made moves out of caution as a result.
 
 
On Sept. 23, Sandoz Inc., a drug manufacturer that makes generic versions of Zantac, announced that it was voluntarily recalling its ranitidine medicines because of “confirmed contamination with N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) above levels established by the FDA in batches of Sandoz Ranitidine Hydrochloride Capsules.” Apotex Corp., another manufacturer, did the same, issuing a voluntarily and precautionary recall on 75mg and 150mg ranitidine tablets on Sept. 25.
 
Some stores are taking it a step further and taking all Zantac and generic ranitidine formulas off the shelves, regardless of the manufacturer.
 
 
“The fact that it is over-the-counter means more people can potentially ingest dangerous chemicals,” Sonpal said. “If it were a prescription drug, fewer people have access to it and the pharmacy can recall and halt distribution fairly quickly once the alarm is sound … In the case of over-the-counter medication, it is a more difficult task to track down people who have purchased and ingested the infected product.”
 
 
Bobby Price, an Atlanta-based pharmacist and plant-based nutritionist who previously worked with the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research with the FDA, noted that due to the popularity of the product, this decision holds a tremendous amount of weight.
 
 
“Zantac at one point was actually the highest-selling drug ever,” Price said. “And so for a company to [state], ‘I’m pulling this drug off of the shelves,’ that says a lot.”
 
 
While Sonpal wasn’t involved in the decision to pull the medication, he has a few theories as to why stores are exercising an abundance of caution. For starters, “pharmacies don’t want to be responsible for consumers becoming ill over this medication, so they want people to be as safe as possible,” he said.
 
 
Additionally, “when impurities are found, even in small amounts, there is a risk that future products can be contaminated at higher levels if not properly looked into,” he explained. Finally, since the news of the contamination came shortly after the FDA recalled other medications for the same NDMA impurity, pharmacies don’t want consumers to take a chance on this medication when “there are affordable alternatives for heartburn.”
 
 
Not all Zantac and generic products are affected.
 
 
“It is important to know that not all U.S.-marketed ranitidine products have been recalled and FDA has said that they are not recommending that individuals stop taking all ranitidine products at this time,” Byrd said.
 
 
So, if you’ve taken a product with ranitidine recently, don’t be too worried. However, the FDA has advised that patients taking prescription ranitidine who wish to discontinue use talk to their doctor about other treatment options.
 
 
“There are numerous over-the-counter medications currently on the market that treat stomach ulcers and/or acid reflux, including Prevacid (lansoprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole), Pepcid (famotidine), omeprazole, pantoprazole and calcium carbonate,” said Shital Mars, CEO of Progressive Care Inc. and PharmCo RX, a private pharmacy in Florida. It’s a good idea to check with a medical professional first if you are concerned about making a switch from your typical medication.
 
 
If you are curious if medication you use is affected, there are ways to check and get your money back. Sandoz’s affected lot numbers are found here and patients with affected products can call the company at 1-800-525-8747 or visit its website for more information.
 
Apotex provided customers with a chart which helps to see if a specific medication was recalled. Customers can also check on their products and return them to the manufacturer by calling 1-800-706-5575 or emailing UScustomerservice@apotex.com.
 
Contributor: Nicole Pajer-Huffington Post

Which Drink is Best for Hydration? Hint: It Isn’t Water…

When you’re thirsty and in need of a drink, which beverages are best at keeping you hydrated?

Sure, you can always reach for a glass of water — but plain H20 isn’t the most hydrating beverage around, according to a study from Scotland’s St. Andrews University that compared the hydration responses of several different drinks.

The researchers found that while water — both still and sparkling –does a pretty good job of quickly hydrating the body, beverages with a little bit of sugar, fat or protein do an even better job of keeping us hydrated for longer.

The reason has to do with how our bodies respond to beverages, according to Ronald Maughan, a professor at St. Andrews’ School of Medicine and the study’s author. One factor is the volume of a given drink: The more you drink, the faster the drink empties from your stomach and gets absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can dilute the body’s fluids and hydrate you.

The other factor affecting how well a beverage hydrates relates to a drink’s nutrient composition. For example, milk was found to be even more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, some protein and some fat, all of which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach and keep hydration happening over a longer period of time.

Milk also has sodium, which acts like a sponge and holds onto water in the body and results in less urine produced.

The same can be said for oral rehydration solutions that are used to treat diarrhea. Those contain small amounts of sugar, as well as sodium and potassium, which can also help promote water retention in the body.

“This study tells us much of what we already knew: Electrolytes — like sodium and potassium — contribute to better hydration, while calories in beverages result in slower gastric emptying and therefore slower release of urination,” said Melissa Majumdar, a registered dietitian, personal trainer and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who was not involved in the study.

Sugar in moderation

But here’s where it gets tricky: Beverages with more concentrated sugars, such as fruit juices or colas, are not necessarily as hydrating as their lower-sugar cousins. They may spend a little more time in the stomach and empty more slowly compared to plain water, but once these beverages enter the small intestine their high concentration of sugars gets diluted during a physiological process called osmosis. This process in effect “pulls” water from the body into the small intestine to dilute the sugars these beverages contain. And technically, anything inside the intestine is outside your body.

Juice and soda are not only less hydrating, but offer extra sugars and calories that won’t fill us up as much as solid foods, explained Majumdar. If the choice is between soda and water for hydration, go with water every time. After all, our kidneys and liver depend on water to get rid of toxins in our bodies, and water also plays a key role in maintaining skin’s elasticity and suppleness. It’s the cheapest moisturizer you’ll find.

While staying hydrated is important — doing so keeps our joints lubricated, helps prevent infections, and carries nutrients to our cells — in most situations people don’t need to worry too much about how hydrating their beverages are.

“If you’re thirsty, your body will tell you to drink more,” Maughan said. But for athletes training seriously in warm conditions with high sweat losses, or for someone whose cognitive function may be negatively impacted by working long hours without beverage breaks, hydration becomes a critical issue.

Can beer and lattes keep me hydrated?

Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which causes you to pass more urine, so when it comes to alcoholic beverages hydration will depend on a beverage’s total volume. “Beer would result in less water loss than whiskey, because you are ingesting more fluid with beer,” Maughan said. “Strong alcoholic drinks will dehydrate, dilute alcoholic drinks will not.”

When it comes to coffee, how well your java hydrates you will depend on the amount of caffeine you consume. A regular coffee with about 80 milligrams of caffeine — roughly what you would find in 12 oz. of Folgers’ house blend — would be pretty much as hydrating as water, according to Maughan’s research.

Consuming more than 300mg of caffeine, or about 2-4 cups of coffee, could cause you to lose excess fluid as the caffeine causes a mild, short-term diuretic effect. This is more likely to happen with someone who doesn’t typically consume caffeine, and it could be offset by adding a tablespoon or two of milk to your cup of joe.

Contributor: Lisa Drayer – CNN Health

Ozone Therapy is Healing Disease at its Cellular Level

Dr. Dezzy Udezue, MD of Renewed Medical Center in Millsboro, says the primary source of all disease can be traced down to the cellular level, and that ozone therapy can help engage the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

 

“Organelles within our cells operate best with ample oxygen. What we breathe, what we eat, and even how we think affects the amount of pure oxygen that reaches cells throughout the body,” says Dr. Udezue. Increasing the amount of oxygen boosts your immune system, decreases inflammation, improves circulation, and combats free-radical production.”

 

What causes a reduction in oxygen levels?

 

  • Choice of diet
  • Digestive issues
  • Most diseases
  • Some disease treatments like radiation and chemotherapy
  • Certain medications
  • Environmental and chemical toxins
  • Natural aging
  • Poor breathing habits
  • Stress
  • Poor posture (yes really!)

Your mindset, thoughts and perception (most definitely!)

Lack of sufficient oxygen takes its toll over time and impedes your body’s ability to properly perform some of its most basic functions.

 

 

What is Ozone Therapy?

Cellular healing with ozone therapy is a medical treatment that increases blood-oxygen levels throughout the body in a form that stimulates healing.

 

Oxygen that we breathe has the chemical formula O2, while ozone (O3) has an extra oxygen atom. It is the addition of this third atom that makes ozone like “supercharged oxygen” and gives it all of its remarkable medical properties.  This third oxygen atom triggers, supports and corrects the body’s natural healing processes.

 

Ozone is a potent regulator of the immune system. When the immune system is overactive, (auto-immune disease) such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohns and Colitis and other diseases, ozone calms it down.  Conversely, when the immune system is underactive, as in cancer, AIDS, and chronic infections, ozone will stimulate it.  This unique ability of ozone stems from its action on the membranes of white blood cells that causes them to produce immune related messenger molecules called cytokines.

 

Ozone is also a powerful mitochondrial stimulant. Mitochondria are the ‘electric generators’ of cells. They use oxygen to produce ATP, which fuels most of the activities of the cell; and they also signal other parts that something needs to be regulated. Malfunctioning or slowing down of the mitochondria from lack of oxygen will cause an imbalance that will produce physical symptoms and illness.

 

Dr. Udezue says, “Mitochondria dysfunction is at the root of all disease and aging.  When you are sick, the mitochondria in various specialized cells (according to the type of illness) are stalled and having difficulty using oxygen efficiently to produce ATP. It is no wonder that fatigue is a primary symptom of nearly every illness or disease.”

 

Ozone reduces or eliminates pain. That almost magical extra oxygen atom aids in the reconstruction of damaged or weakened connective tissue in and around joints by attracting  to inflammatory areas of injury or damage extra oxygen and energy and therefore setting up a whole new cascade of reactions that allow the body to restart the healing  and reconstructing the area of injury or damage. Try this before you go for that knee replacement!

 

Ozone is the most potent Anti-aging Medicine: Ozone is the only substance known that actually stimulates and increases the power of Mitochondria, which actually reduces and delays aging! Just as you change your car’s engine oil regularly to keep it running efficiently, Ozone therapy can be used episodically to delay and reverse age-related degeneration.

 

Dr. Udezue uses ozone therapy as one of several innovative alternative treatments that may halt and reverse conditions and diseases leading to health and wellness. Many find it effective in the treatment of:

 

  • Several types of Cancer
  • Digestive disorders (Ulcerative Colitis/ Crohn’s Disease)
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Allergies
  • Chronic infections
  • Chronic pain especially in joints, bones, and muscle tissue
  • Macular degeneration
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

Ozone Therapy was the second in a series of lectures about mind-body connection and how healing and preventing disease requires a combination of physical, spiritual, and emotional approaches along with innovative technology for healing the body at a cellular level by restoring cells mitochondrial oxygen and energy systems.

 

Contributor:  CapeGazette.com

Learn More about Ozone Therapy Here

Teenage Boy Goes Blind After Existing on Pringles, White Bread and French Fries

Eating a diet of french fries, Pringles and white bread was enough to make one teenage boy lose his sight, according to a case study published in a medical journal.

Scientists from the University of Bristol examined the case of a young patient whose extremely picky eating led to blindness, and have warned of the dangers of a poor diet.

The unidentified patient told doctors he had only eaten fries from the fish and chip shop, Pringles potato chips, white bread, slices of processed ham and sausage since elementary school, and he avoided foods with certain textures. He first visited a doctor at age 14, complaining of tiredness, according to a case report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday.

He wasn’t taking any medication, had a normal BMI and height, and showed no visible signs of malnutrition.

Doctors discovered low vitamin B12 levels and anemia, treating the patient with vitamin B12 injections and offering dietary advice.

One year later there were signs of hearing loss and vision symptoms, but doctors did not find the cause.

The patient’s extreme diet led to nutritional optic neuropathy.

His vision had worsened to the point of blindness by 17 years of age, and doctors identified vitamin B12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, a high zinc level, reduced vitamin D level and bone level density, according to a statement from the University of Bristol.

By this stage, vision damage was permanent.

Researchers from Bristol Medical School and the Bristol Eye Hospital examined the case and concluded that the patient suffered nutritional optic neuropathy, a dysfunction of the optic nerve.

In developed countries it is mostly caused by bowel problems or medication that interferes with the absorption of nutrients, and it is rarely caused entirely by poor diet because food is readily available.

In some places, malnutrition caused by poverty, war and drought is linked to higher rates of nutritional optic neuropathy, according to a statement.

Fast food may contribute to teen depression, study says

The condition is reversible if treated early but can lead to blindness if no action is taken.

“Our vision has such an impact on quality of life, education, employment, social interactions, and mental health,” said study lead author Denize Atan, an ophthalmologist at Bristol Medical School and Bristol Eye Hospital.

“This case highlights the impact of diet on visual and physical health, and the fact that calorie intake and BMI are not reliable indicators of nutritional status.”

The researchers say that poor diet and reduced intake of minerals caused vision loss in this case, and warn that nutritional optic neuropathy could become more common due to the consumption of junk food.

They also warned vegans to make sure to supplement for vitamin B12 to avoid deficiency.

To prevent similar cases, doctors should ask patients about their dietary history as part of routine clinical examinations, the researchers urged.

“Extreme example”

Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, was critical of the case report, saying it relied on the patient’s own recall of his eating habits and did not take into account other possible explanations for the condition, including genetic defects or environmental exposures.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause optic neuropathy but it is very unusual to find dietary deficiency when animal products are consumed e.g. ham and sausages which are significant sources of the vitamin B12,” he told the Science Media Centre in London.

Gary Frost, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at Imperial College London, who was not involved in the research, told CNN it is incredibly rare for someone in the UK to have a diet so limited it results in micronutrient deficiencies.

“Although it is an extreme example, it highlights the importance of having a wide and varied diet to ensure that you get the profile of nutrients and micronutrients that are needed for healthy development,” said Frost.

These deficiencies become more likely the more limited the choice of food, he added.

“Fussy eating is very common in young children and in extreme cases can lead to very limited choice of food,” said Frost.

“There is a need to pick up on eating problems such as these as early as possible so the issue around limited textures and tastes can be addressed.”