Creeping Horror

Here’s a fun little test to either help internalize the creeping horror or introduce someone new to the mind virus.

The first step is to find a moderately obscure topic you would know far more about than your average English grad would. It can be anything: something related to your career, a hobby you’re deep into, your religion, an academic area you’ve studied extensively, or even pastel ponies. Choose something of which you have a deep knowledge.

You must avoid anything your average SWPL “knowledge-worker” would know; so avoid things related to coffee, indie music, HBO, pretentious literature, etc. (Alright, pastel ponies might not work). Also make sure to avoid anything overly subjective or too mainstream.

Having chosen your topic, look for articles in the mainstream news on the topic. Try the big ones: CNN, the NYT, the Washington Post, or, in Canada, the CBC. Having found a few articles from a few different sources read them.

Notice every time they are inaccurate, make a factual mistake, leave out something important, make a logical fallacy, write something that doesn’t make sense, or otherwise distort reality.

Having done this, think on the fact that every other topic covered by the media has errors to the same extent, except you don’t notice because you don’t know more about that topic than your average J-school graduate.

Then consider how you, and most everybody else, becomes informed about things they don’t know of.

This is where the horror sets in.


To let the horror creep in more, look to your career. Remember that obscure regulation nobody outside your particular occupation or industry would know of, the one that: made society worse, was borderline insane, the government had no business being in, allowed a person/company to rob the taxpayer, made your job more miserable than it should be, and/or was just pointless busywork to employ bureaucrats?

You probably never talked of it to anyone other than possibly the occasional rant to a friend or two or some co-workers.

Now think on the fact that there are thousands of other occupations and industries you are not employed in and where you would not be able to know that obscure regulation.

Give it a few minutes for the horror to dawn.

15 responses to “Creeping Horror

  • donalgraeme

    Its mind-boggling the first time you realize the extent of the sickness, isn’t it?

  • Remy Sheppard

    hahahaha, Oh my god. This is good. My wife is sitting next to me silently, sipping coffee and staring into the middle distance. She read it and said, “oh… wow…” and then we just sat for a minute. Creeping horror is right.

  • Aquinas Dad

    When I was 17 I enlisted in the Army and picked a “cool” specialty instead of a practical one.
    Then I asked for and got the “cool” assignment instead of the desk job most intel guys get.
    Then I got more “cool” assignments.
    Then I got to see the stuff about what is going on in the world that is classified because of the “pucker factor”.
    I am *not* belittling your experience, nor the impact of what you wrote. I am just letting you know – there are more levels of this and some of them are downright Lovecraftian.

  • earl

    This song…is factually accurate.

  • Salmo

    Horror, what “horror”? You’ve discovered you don’t know something, which the response to is curiosity, motivation, the private imperative to remedy ignorance. The exciting opportunity to gain knowledge where others are ignorant. “Horror,” as you, Nick Land, whoever, puts it, is omnipresent in life in a zillion aspects, for there is always danger and fear. It’s latent in everything and an intrinsic part of existence and our emotional makeup, we wouldn’t function without it. It’ll rear its head in each of us as necessary along with all the other necessary emotions. Why fetishize it? Why dictate the emotional response. Why be an asshole.

  • MC

    This is what Micheal Chrichton called the “Gell-Mann Amnesia” effect:

  • Apollo


    The point isnt about lack of knowledge. The point is that:
    * most of what you believe you know is wrong or misleading,
    * most other people are in the same position with regards to their knowledge,
    * many important decisions are probably being made based on this wrong or misleading information,
    * getting properly and accurately educated on almost any topic may require more time and effort than you have, because a significant proportion of the easily available introductory information on many topics will be wrong or misleading
    * and most people dont realise any of this is the case and are proceeding as if it wasn’t.

    Your comment didnt indicate it, but perhaps you already grasp all of this. Perhaps you aren’t concerned, or dont find it noteworthy. Good for you. However many other people, including myself, the other commentors others who have tried the thought experiment obviously think differently.

  • Free Northerner

    @ Aquinas Dad: I am aware that some people would know a lot more of the depths of the horror than myself.

    @ Salmo: As Apollo said, it has nothing to do with gaining knowledge; you have failed to grasp the point.

    @ MC: I know other people have observed this before; good tot have a name for it.

    @ Apollo: Good response.

  • Warrior_Savant

    “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    I’m sure Ben would include TV, print media, the net and other sources among the “hear” category, and the “see” still only that which you observe first hand.

    The Founders were wise men indeed. Some things will never change so long as humanity exists.

    Unfortunately, now as ever, the majority of mankind are worker-bees ready, willing and able to consume-digest-internalize whatever TV/school/NYT tells them is true.

    Moreover, this ignorance has spread throughout history as greater technology has been able to spread mass media without filter and among endless channels. It’s all downhill from here….

  • vascularity777

    While reading your piece I thought of Christianity and all the denominations and associated differing interpretations of the bible. Due to this phenomena I’ve explained to my son to never take anything any pastor says and gospel, that they are flawed just like the rest of us.

  • tripp


    The only asshole here is you.

  • Agon

    Terrifying. And people think they understand the world.

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