Science & Tech

Achieve Freedom From Fear

Bill Nye

Lesson time 12:00 min

Bill explains how fear affects our thinking and how we can overcome it. He also covers xenophobia, reveals how politicians use scare tactics to control us, and shares a childhood story of a time he channeled his fear successfully.

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Topics include: Understand the Biology of Fear · Lead With Inspiration, Not Fear · Reject Xenophobia (Fear of Others) · Channel Your Fear


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I want to scratch my nose, and you know why my nose was itching? There's probably a little mite, a skin mite burrowing into one of my hair follicles. There I am trying to live my life with this-- this other organism parasitically living off my sebaceous oil. It can be terrifying, or it can just be one of those things. Scratch your nose. Move on. [MUSIC PLAYING] We need to talk about fear. It can motivate us, or it can paralyze us. So we need to control it. And the way to do that is with science. We've all felt fear, for crying out loud. And fear comes from the amygdala, the structure at the base of your brain, part of what many scientists call the limbic system. And limb means on the edge, so it's on the bottom edge of your brain. And it affects the whole thing, your whole brain. It affects your ability to think logically, to think clearly, to think scientifically. But with our scientific understanding of the world and our brains, we can deal with our fear. We can overcome it. And if you're like me-- and I know I am-- you're very concerned about climate change. Climate change is scary. There are more fires. There are more floods. The world's warmer than ever. And that fear can debilitate you, can keep you from getting things done. And fear of climate change certainly can be overwhelming. But when we understand the problem around us, then we can deal with it. Then we can use our brains, amygdala included, to not only react to climate change but react to it in a positive way so that we all get through the next few decades successfully. Am I right, Fredricka? Fredricka is just not that concerned about climate change right now. But as time goes on, her desert environment is going to get drier and hotter. Is she going to be able to find anything to eat? Am I right, Fredricka? Yeah. She's into the regular solids. I think we all are. There's an octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron. And don't get me wrong. When the tarantula was walking across the table, I can feel it. I can feel the fear. And so fear has great value from an evolutionary standpoint. I mean, if you are not afraid of anything, you're going to get in trouble. The saber-toothed cat's going to take your head off, for example. Fear is of great value. The problem is often that fear debilitates us. The amygdala fires a little too hard, and our brain gets hijacked by fear. You may have heard the expression paralyzed by doubt. You don't want that. [MUSIC PLAYING] So for centuries, politicians, leaders, have used fear to motivate people. If we don't act now, if we don't enter this war, the other guys are going to overrun our country. If we don't take my leadership, things are going to go very badly. You should be afraid if I'm not in charge. That's a classic political technique. And it's effective because fear is so deep within our brains. It's so deep within us. The example that comes to mind right now, people ar...

About the Instructor

With his 19-time Emmy Award–winning show, Bill Nye the Science Guy introduced the joy of scientific discovery to a worldwide audience. Now, for the first time, the beloved educator is teaching his framework for scientific thinking and everyday problem-solving. Learn Bill’s approach to navigating information through “critical filtering” and embrace a science-based, optimistic response to some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

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Bill Nye

Emmy Award–winning science educator Bill Nye teaches you his method for solving everyday problems, evaluating information, and thinking like a scientist.

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