Compulsion. Aversion. An unhealthy curiosity, the propensity to which is apparently hard-wired into us, viz. this brief anecdote from Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man:

All animals feel Wonder, and many may exhibit Curiosity. They sometimes suffer from this latter quality...

Brehm gives a curious account of the instinctive dread, which his monkeys exhibited, for snakes; but their curiosity was so great that they could not desist from occasionally satiating their horror in a most human fashion, by lifing up the lid of the box in which the snakes were kept.

I was so much surprised at this account that I took a stuffed and coiled up snake into the monkey house at the Zoological Gardens, and the excitement thus caused was one of the most curious spectacles which I ever beheld.

Three species of Cercopithecus were the most alarmed; they dashed about their cages and uttered sharp signal cries of danger... A few young monkeys and one old Anubis baboon alone took no notice of the snake.

I then placed the stuffed specimen on the ground in one of the larger compartments. After a time all the monkeys collected round it in a large circle, and staring intently, presented a most ludicrous appearance... These monkeys behaved very differently when a dead fish, a mouse, a living turtle, and other new objects were placed in their cages; for though at first frightened, they soon approached, handled, and examined them.

I then placed a live snake in a paper bag, with its mouth loosely closed, in one of the larger compartments.

One of the monkeys immediately approached, cautiously opened the bag a little, peeped in, and instantly dashed away... Monkey after monkey, with head raised high and turned on one side, could not resist taking a momentary peep into the upright bag, at the dreadful object lying quietly at the bottom...


For additional Victorian anecdotes in a similar vein, see Darwin on "Expression of the Emotions" in The Descent of Man. This passage taken from Part I, Chapter III: Mental Powers.

A present from your admirer:

Because of Dutch food Holland is a nation of giants ( huge dutch women ). Dutch urinals are particularly good at making you feel deeply inadequate. Placed on the wall at about chest hight you would need three days worth of backed up urine to create sufficient pressure to reach the bowl.

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