An old theory says that fear of things like snakes and fire is built into our brain, because animals that are afraid of dangerous things live longer and have more babies.

closed as off-topic by chasly from UK, Robusto, tchrist, Drew, Sven Yargs Jul 27 '15 at 7:54

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    Please give your understanding of the sentence. If we don't know why it is causing you a problem we cannot explain it. – chasly from UK Jul 26 '15 at 13:19
  • I mean in the first part, we're talking about human fear but in the second it's the animal fear which is being talked about and I don't understand the relationship... :-| – Englisholic Jul 26 '15 at 13:23
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    It assumes that humans are animals or descended from animals. It also assumes that any species that is alive must be afraid of dangerous things, otherwise it would have died out. – chasly from UK Jul 26 '15 at 13:34
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    Humans are animals, and have many instincts in common with other animals. – Hot Licks Jul 26 '15 at 13:56
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it appears to be motivated by disagreement with the notion that people and "animals" can be treated in some biological or psychological respects as interchangeable categories—which is not a question about the English language or about English usage. – Sven Yargs Jul 27 '15 at 7:54

There're two factors that're being discussed here: Fear and survival and their relationship to each other.

The fact remains that we're no different than animals in all ways, except for the endowment of a highly developed and complex brain.

Fear warns and thereby saves us from a risk to our very existence, by forcing us to act. It is an instinct, built in and evident right from birth. For instance, a baby cries to draw attention at the sight of a stranger. Such instincts are aimed at survival and sustenance. Nature wants every species to multiply so that the 'cycle of life' can continue.


It is hypothesized that we inherited from our anthropoid ancestors an innate fear of things like snakes and fire. The evolutionary model says that any animal so equipped to avoid dangerous things will live longer to reproduce.

  • I switched your double use of theory in the same paragraph to something more descriptive of what a formal “evolutionary theory” like this actually is: it’s a model not a hypothesis. Hope that’s ok. It’s possible that the first theory means hypothesize though, so I left it. Please feel free to re-edit for clarity. – tchrist Jul 26 '15 at 13:46
  • @tchrist Your version is better. Yes, the "theorized" means what you say -- it's a "just so" story. – deadrat Jul 26 '15 at 15:11
  • @deadok Ah ok, added hypothesized therefore. – tchrist Jul 26 '15 at 15:17

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