What were people scared of in the past that now seems funny?

I got to thinking about the article recently that talked about how Google was creating a self-navigating car. What has struck me when I talk about it with people, they are universally scared of the prospect. I’m not mocking them either, I don’t think such a prospect is without risks, but my first thought is, “Humans don’t exactly have a flawless track record when it comes to driving.”

The way I look at, my kids could very likely be shocked and amused that we would ever be more scared of a machine that can simultaneously monitor all directions for movement and run calculations about its velocity and whatnot over a person who can only look in one direction, who is listening to the radio, who is thinking about what he or she needs at the grocery store, etc.

So, looking back, what kinds of technology, new philosophies, medical procedures, etc. were feared by contemporaries, but now seem quaint to us?

PS: I started another thread for things that our kids will look back on and wonder about us.

When the raildroad was first introduced, people were concerned that the mindboggling speed of 40mph might hurt the human body - why, we’re simply not built for such hellish speeds!

Wasn’t the first person killed by a car, hit by someone going at the incomprehensibly rapid speed of like 20 mph?

I recall reading that the first time a movie was shown with a close up of an actor’s face some people panicked and ran out of the theater. Giant face!

Of course ol’ Sputnik raised quite a stir. Yes, the satellite’s source had a lot to do with that but it is amusing given our knowledge of satellite capabilities now to think that such an antiquated, harmless little space basketball caused such widespread concern.

Along those lines, there was a very early movie of a train coming towards the camera. That also made people run out of the theater.

Also, when the first special effect gun shot was shown, the person who created the movie was briefly arrested for murder.

Outside of theatre. The first ever hot air balloon landed in a field, and the farmers attacked it because they thought it was an evil spirit.

The concept of Hell?

Gaulish people were afraid that the sky might fall on their head.

some were scared of the tomato

Interracial marriage? Plenty of people were afraid that “they” were going to marry “our” daughters and raise “mongrels” until no one could tell the races apart. Of course the funny thing is they were largely right about those “consequences”; it’s just that most people don’t care anymore.


Or of being attacked by a man armed with a piece of fresh fruit.

Now, now. There is a difference between what the people were afraid of and what their leaders feared…

Swimming after a meal.

People are still afraid of that in many places. And I’m not talking about “little old ladies dressed all in black”, but about young doctors.

I’ve always heard this but wondered how true it was. Before cars and trains people rode horses which average around 30mph running and can easily close in on 40mph sprinting.

Deadly New World Fruit:

When the first astronaunts came back from the moon, they were put in quarentine in case they brought back any moon diseases.


Interracial organ transplants.


Today? Muslims.