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Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear
     

Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear

5.0 1
by Margee Kerr
 

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Shiver-inducing science not for the faint of heart.

No one studies fear quite like Margee Kerr. A sociologist who moonlights at one of America's scariest and most popular haunted houses, she has seen grown men laugh, cry, and push their loved ones aside as they run away in terror. And she's kept careful notes on what triggers these responses and

Overview


Shiver-inducing science not for the faint of heart.

No one studies fear quite like Margee Kerr. A sociologist who moonlights at one of America's scariest and most popular haunted houses, she has seen grown men laugh, cry, and push their loved ones aside as they run away in terror. And she's kept careful notes on what triggers these responses and why.

Fear is a universal human experience, but do we really understand it? If we're so terrified of monsters and serial killers, why do we flock to the theaters to see them? Why do people avoid thinking about death, but jump out of planes and swim with sharks? For Kerr, there was only one way to find out.

In this eye-opening, adventurous book, she takes us on a tour of the world's scariest experiences: into an abandoned prison long after dark, hanging by a cord from the highest tower in the Western hemisphere, and deep into Japan's mysterious “suicide forest.” She even goes on a ghost hunt with a group of paranormal adventurers. Along the way, Kerr shows us the surprising science from the newest studies of fear—what it means, how it works, and what it can do for us. Full of entertaining science and the thrills of a good ghost story, this book will make you think, laugh—and scream.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/17/2015
Kerr, a sociologist, investigates fear in this book, which blends memoir and scholarly study. She seeks out fresh sources of screams around the world: walking around the roof of a skyscraper, sitting in solitary confinement, riding a roller coaster, and visiting a haunted house. While describing her experiences, Karr insightfully reviews the physical effects of feeling fear, such as the release of hormones. The author begins and ends the book at ScareHouse in Pittsburgh, Pa., where she is invited to design a set of experiments testing her theory that three components turn the merely scary into the absolutely terrifying: narrative (a background story), interactivity (especially a physical interaction or sensation), and shared participation to intensify the emotions. For people who wonder why they like to be scared, these experiments offer some clues. For those afraid of being afraid, Kerr’s own enthusiasm gives them reasons to try it, since, as she writes, “there is so much power in recognizing that simple fact, that each day is our choice: Are you going to live or die?” Agent: Alia Habib, McCormick Literary. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“Visceral… Entertaining…The encouraging message is that we should… feel the fear and do it anyway.” —Wall Street Journal

“Margee Kerr is a fear junkie. Roller coasters, haunted houses, heights, abandoned prisons, ghosts (well, maybe), even death — she confronts them with the relentlessness of a zombie Terminator. … [She] mixes enough self-awareness and insight with her tales of fright to make the book campfire-worthy. Scream may not haunt you outright, but it stays with you, mainly by showing how the scariest place in the world is inside your own head.” —Washington Post

“While describing her experiences, Kerr insightfully reviews the physical effects of feeling fear… For people who wonder why they like to be scared, these experiments offer some clues. For those afraid of being afraid, Kerr's own enthusiasm gives them reasons to try it.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kerr takes readers on a journey on which they will experience the world's most frightening and terrifying places firsthand… As Kerr explores places that make people tremble, she shares her personal dread on each of these destinations, which makes the book even more captivating… While complete with scientific information, this well-written, fascinating book is accessible to the general public.” —Library Journal

Library Journal
08/01/2015
When not teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, sociologist and debut author Kerr collects data on how the brain and body responds to fear. Here, Kerr takes readers on a journey on which they will experience the world's most frightening and terrifying places firsthand, including Fuji-Q Highland in Japan, an amusement park that boasts extreme roller coasters; Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia; and the CN Tower Edge Walk in Toronto. While the author delves into the physical response to anxiety, she also investigates what drives people to pay to have others scare them. As Kerr explores places that make people tremble, she shares her personal dread on each of these destinations, which makes the book even more captivating. In addition to the data revealing our body and mind's reaction to fear, this account could almost be used as a travel guide to the globe's most chilling places. VERDICT While complete with scientific information, this well-written, fascinating book is accessible to the general public.—Mary E. Jones, Los Angeles P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
2015-07-01
The author's quest to understand the psychology of thrill-seeking and fear. Kerr, who holds a doctorate in sociology, seeks to explain how courting extreme experiences that challenge our fears can lead to a happier life. Her focus is not on the use of fear as a marketing device to "sell products and shape political debate" but on what fear triggers within us. Ordinarily bottled-up emotions are released, followed by an exuberant sense of exhilaration. Over the years, in her search for thrills and chills, Kerr has visited "the world's scariest haunted houses," ridden on "its steepest roller coasters," dangled "suspended by a cable, from one of the tallest human made structures," experienced solitary confinement, and more. Her many adventures began with a haunted house experience at age 6 and continued with roller coasters during her adolescence. She reports how flirting with danger by challenging her body's adaptation to gravity on a two-minute roller-coaster ride evoked a cathartic state of high arousal, accompanied by screams and tears and followed by a daylong feeling of euphoria. Kerr's scientific interest was aroused years ago when she first visited ScareHouse, "a haunted attraction in Pittsburgh." At the time, she was writing her dissertation and working on a project concerning health care. She began moonlighting at ScareHouse, analyzing customer surveys on how they rated their experiences. This led to her taking an active role in designing immersive experiences using actors who interact with visitors. Since 2014, she has been engaged in a formal collaboration with cognitive neuroscientist Greg Siegle to study the responses of the brain and body to fear. One of the tests involves brain scans that are administered to volunteers who are given tasks for them to perform before and after they visit the exhibits. As the author notes in this enjoyable account, "being scared significantly [makes] people feel better." Kerr frames her colorful narrative of her scientific objectives with autobiographical details of her own thrill-seeking experiences.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610394826
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
09/29/2015
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
298,825
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author


Margee Kerr has a PhD in Sociology sociology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she currently teaches. She is also a nationally recognized expert on professional haunted houses and works year-round for the ScareHouse haunted house, analyzing data on customers and employees to make its attractions scarier. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, Parade, Atlantic Monthly, and NPR's Science Friday, among other places. She is also is the coinvestigator on the country's first-of-its-kind study measuring fear in the real world, collecting data on how the brain and body responds in real-life threatening situations. She lives in Pittsburgh.

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Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished the book, it's truly a great read. The insight on fear is amazing. Such a great book! I even had the chance to meet Ms. Kerr at her book signing. Such a wonderful lady.