Friday, May 25, 2018
Features and More

No surprise: Clowns have always been creepy

Long before they donned big feet and balloon pants for children's birthday parties, clowns were strictly adult entertainment. As dimwitted drunks, hypersexual hooligans and mischievous miscreants, these court jesters and fools poked fun at Chinese emperors, Roman senators and medieval feudal lords.

Yep, clowns were cultural pranksters long before they morphed into merry fools. They also bore less-than-sterling names such as "stupidus," "scurra" and "moriones" (from which "stupid," "scurrilous" and "moron" are derived).

So why should we be surprised that clowns are back to being creepy? Psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists aren't.

For the past few months, sinister clown sightings have swept through a dozen states, and law enforcement, school administrators, children and adults have had to tamp down irrational fears.

No shock, then, that a study released earlier this year involving an international sample of more than 1,300 people put "clown" at the top of a list of creepiest occupations, ahead of taxidermist, sex shop owner and funeral director. (Oddly, "writer" came in 11th, just ahead of actor, construction worker and computer software engineer.)

The lead author of the study, psychologist Francis T. McAndrew, wrote, "On the nature of creepiness," that it was "things that make a person unpredictable also predict creepiness." And clowns, frankly, fit the bill. They wear disguises, might appear to be friendly or happy from their face paint and yet behave differently, and you don't know what they might do next.

"It may be that it is only when we are confronted with uncertainty about threat that we get 'creeped out,' " Andrew wrote, "which could be adaptive if it facilitates our ability to maintain vigilance during periods of uncertainty. Thus, it is our contention that 'creepy' is a qualitatively different characteristic than related concepts such as 'terrifying' or 'disgusting' in which the conclusions drawn about the person in question are much more clear cut."

Then again, the uncanny clown sightings might be more figment of the imagination than genuine fright. According to Loren Coleman, a cryptozoologist (someone who studies mythical beasts, such as the Loch Ness Monster), the sightings might be due to a kind of mass hysteria that is most often sparked by children.

The phenomenon of this mass hysteria carries a "scientific" name, which itself could allay fears for the easily frightened:

The Phantom Clown Theory.

Comments
Veterans get in free at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and more with Memorial Day deals

Veterans get in free at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and more with Memorial Day deals

Memorial Day is a time to say "thank you" to our veterans. The following is a list of free offers for them to enjoy. Some even last all summer.• Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are offering U.S. veterans and up to three guests get free admission to the th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR — Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."It’s got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. That’s not bad." Indeed, there’s a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmon’s was a meeting place

Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmon’s was a meeting place

It’s where former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams had lunch with current Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.It’s where University of South Florida fans often gathered to watch the program’s biggest road games.It’s where folks showed up in...
Published: 05/24/18
Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior on-set, at his production company, and during press junkets, according to a report.CNN reports that 16 people have spoken out against Freeman’s alleged misco...
Published: 05/24/18
Ballet Nacional de Cuba stuns with a spectacular ‘Giselle’

Ballet Nacional de Cuba stuns with a spectacular ‘Giselle’

TAMPA — The Ballet Nacional de Cuba performed Giselle, its signature ballet, on Wednesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Fifty-four dancers charmed a packed house, culminating in about two hours an effort that took more tha...
Published: 05/24/18
Bar review: Things are hopping at new Swan Brewing in Lakeland

Bar review: Things are hopping at new Swan Brewing in Lakeland

Lakeland’s a little out of the way, but I’m always eager to check out the bar scene there when passing through or attending an event. Every place I’ve visited just seems so pleasant.I regret missing the boat on the city’s first brewery, Lakeland Brew...
Published: 05/24/18
tbt* local craft beer of the week: Dark Harbor Mocha Stout, Sea Drift Ales & Lagers

tbt* local craft beer of the week: Dark Harbor Mocha Stout, Sea Drift Ales & Lagers

The saga of Barley Mow Brewing Company and its eventual offshoot/successor Sea Drift Ales & Lagers is a complicated one. The most interesting part is how the latter came to be as a result of brewery-distributor tensions, in which Barley Mow pulled an...
Published: 05/24/18
Dr. Beach ranks Caladesi Island No. 7 on list of country’s best beaches

Dr. Beach ranks Caladesi Island No. 7 on list of country’s best beaches

Caladesi Island’s "crystalline quartz" sand and "sparkling clear" water left an impression on Dr. Beach, who ranked it in his annual list of the country’s top 10 beaches.Dr. Beach, or Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, is a professor and director for the Lab...
Published: 05/24/18
In New York City, following in David Bowie’s footsteps

In New York City, following in David Bowie’s footsteps

NEW YORKThere are few artists who merit a true pilgrimage — a concerted attempt to walk in the footsteps of greatness — but if there’s one luminary worth traveling for, it’s David Bowie.With the final stop of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s experien...
Published: 05/24/18
9 things to do indoors on this rainy Memorial Day weekend

9 things to do indoors on this rainy Memorial Day weekend

It’s hard not to think of the Forrest Gump line: "One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months." If you are looking for something to do while the current deluge continues, we have some suggestions. There are obvious choices, like ma...
Published: 05/24/18