Sciency Words: Kosmikophobia

Sciency Words MATH

Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:

KOSMIKOPHOBIA

I stumbled upon this word while researching last week’s posts on asteroids (click here or here). Kosmikophobia is the fear of cosmic phenomena.

To be fair, there are cosmic phenomena to be genuinely concerned about, such as potential asteroid impacts, gamma ray bursts, or the kinds of solar storms that could trigger another Carrington Event.

But this is a phobia, meaning its an irrational or over-exaggerated fear. It’s one thing to one thing to worry that an asteroid might one day wipe out human civilization; it’s another to live in existential dread that it might happen at any moment.

Kosmikophoba can also cover totally irrational fears of auroras or eclipses or the phases of the Moon. Or if you’re excessively terrified of comets and planetary alignments because you believe they are bad omens… that could also be considered kosmikophobia.

There are just two things I’m not clear on: first, has anyone actually been diagnosed with kosmikophobia and received treatment for it? And second, why is it spelled with k’s rather than c’s.

Regarding the spelling, I’m guessing the k’s are supposed to be a more authentic transliteration of the original Greek spelling of cosmos. I just can’t find any etymology to back me up on that.

As for the first point, I know not all phobia-words are meant to be taken seriously. For example, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (the fear of long words) seems to have been made up as a joke.

Since I can’t find any case studies about patients suffering from kosmikophobia, I can’t be sure how seriously to take this condition. The only thing I can say for certain is that this is a real word. I found it in a real dictionary. And as a space enthusiast, I’m really glad I don’t have it.

4 Responses to Sciency Words: Kosmikophobia

  1. milesmutka says:

    Does not seem very common, unless you consider fear of black holes (melanoheliophobia) as a specific type of kosmikophobia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      I hadn’t heard of that one before. I have no idea how those phobias would be related. I sort of got the impression that kosmikophobia is primarily about cosmic phenomena you’d expect to see from Earth or in some way might affect Earth. But if you’re afraid a black hole might come along and swallow Earth, I guess that would apply.

      Like

  2. Phobias typically aren’t subject to rational examination by those suffering from them, but to the more typical fear of cosmic phenomenon, I always tell people they should be more worried about what we will do to ourselves rather than what the universe will do. The evidence seems to indicate that nature hits us with extinction level events every 100 million years or so; the chance that it will do so in our lifetime is infinitesimal. The chance that we will destroy ourselves is much higher.

    Liked by 1 person

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