Monday, August 17, 2015

Did a survey find that Americans’ greatest fear is a waitress forgetting about them - pedisecaphobia? No!

An article in The Onion on Friday, August 14th, claimed that:

“Surpassing their anxieties regarding public speaking, mass shootings, and natural disasters, Americans’ single greatest that their waitress will forget about them.

....More than 70 percent of the individuals we surveyed listed having their waitress set down some glasses of water, promise to come back and take their order when they’re ready, and then never return to their table as their number one fear in life.

....Americans’ second-most common fear was that their waitress would take their order, but then a shift change would occur without her ever conveying the information to the next server.”

That article claimed their source was the latest Chapman Survey on American Fears, and quoted Chapman University sociologist Christopher Bader.

Is it true? No, it’s about 95% bogus! The Onion is a satirical phony newspaper. There really was a Chapman Survey on American Fears, but its results were reported back in October of 2014. When you look for current press releases about a new one at the Chapman University web site, you will come up empty. I blogged about last year’s survey in three posts titled What do the most Americans fear? The Chapman Survey on American Fears and the press release copying reflex, and Chapman Survey on American Fears includes both zombies and ghosts, and Where in the heck did this data really come from?  

What about the word pedisecaphobia? When I looked on the Phobia List there wasn’t one for waitresses. So, I looked in a Latin Dictionary to find that the word for waitress was pediseca, and created the phobia. The only place you’ll find it mentioned on Google, Bing, or Yahoo is in this blog post. 

UPDATE September 10, 2015

Somewhat hilariously on August 11th Sherri Ledbetter of Chapman University had blogged about
How to promote your research to an external audience - a case study in “fear”.

The waitress image was cropped from one by Alan Light at Wikimedia Commons.

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