Fascination with the unknown is something everyone shares, to some degree. From religion to the paranormal, man has yearned to understand that there’s something “else” out there for thousands of years. To paraphrase The X Files’ Fox Mulder: “We want to believe.” The following is a list of some of the most popular—and most bizarre—obsessions that continue to fascinate us.
- Conspiracy Theories
Whether they induce an eyeroll, or an eyebrow raise, everybody loves a good conspiracy theory. Admit it, it’s fun to let your imagination run wild, thinking up hidden government secrets, or staying up all night Googling information on the Illuminati. Some of my favorite conspiracy theories include the notion that the moon landing was a hoax, and the Roswell UFO incident. Whether you actually buy into them or not, conspiracy theories are a guaranteed crackup conversation starter at your next party.
- Haunted Houses
Growing up, everybody had that one house—usually way down at the end of street—that all the neighborhood kids were just plain creeped out by. The paint was peeling, the lawn was overgrown, feral cats populated the front porch, and despite multiple stakeout sessions, nobody ever saw who lived there. And so the rumors began to spread. Curious kids cupped their hands and whispered to each other, “It’s haunted.” Older siblings would invent urban legends about a family who once lived there that had been murdered. Admit it—to this very day, the hair on the back of your neck stands up when you drive by a house like this in the middle of the night.
These old, creepy houses aren’t just fodder for folklore, either. Entrepreneurs are quick to capitalize on our secret desire to get good and creeped out. Creaky, freaky houses have long been the setting of many a horror movie. For people who wish to get up close and personal with creepy houses, most cities and even theme parks have an obligatory “haunted house” tourist attraction. One of the most famous haunted residences is The Whaley House located in San Diego, CA.
- Mythical Monsters
If you grew up anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot was probably the subject of many bedtime stories. Who doesn’t love a good Sasquatch, or Loch Ness Monster tale? Let’s not leave out our little fantasy friend south of the border, the Chupacabra. If Mexican folklore is foreign to you, the Chupacabra is said to be a sort of vampire dog who drains the blood from rancher’s goats in the middle of the night. Anyone who is fascinated by the unknown can’t help but be drawn to stories about mythical monsters. The idea that there is still a sense of mystery left in the world is quite appealing to those of us who are explorers at heart.
Like mythical monsters, superstitions appeal to our fascination with the supernatural. Sometimes, we don’t want the explanation that makes sense, or is the most logical. We want to believe that some outcomes are the products of something we can’t begin to understand. Deep down, no matter how cynical a person is, everybody wants to believe that miracles and magic are possible and not everything is a product of cold hard chance.
When the latest Mars rover Curiosity successfully touched down on the surface of the planet, we all had the same question on the tip of our tongues: “Are there signs of life on Mars?” Wouldn’t it be grand to know that we’re not alone in this great big galaxy of ours? The theory might not be as far fetched as it sounds. According to the news agency Global Post: “A European research team said Wednesday that about 40 percent of the billions of red dwarf stars in the Milky Way likely have habitable planets in their orbit.” Who knows? We might get to meet our intergalactic friends sooner than we think!
It’s human nature to be at least a little bit cynical. And because of this inherent cynicism,strange obsessions have become an important part of our culture. Not only do they make for interesting dinner conversation, but they lead us down the path to discovery. And it’s unlikely that this will change anytime soon—for every answer we get, for every mystery that gets solved, we will just come up with more questions. So embrace your fascination with the unknown. You never know where it will take you!
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