Nerd Factor: Claus-trophobia


santa-claus (retrieved from
Retrieved from

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     The Nerd Factor is vitally concerned with the public interest. As part of the column’s ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of its readers, an important safety announcement follows. 

     Claus-trophobia is a condition that affects millions of people each year, yet somehow the general public remains relatively unaware of the disorder. Claus-trophobia is a state of heightened anxiety, agitation, and even fright, related to the approach of the Christmas holiday. Like other phobias, Claus-trophobia can manifest in a variety of ways. 

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Nerd Factor: The Annexation of Thanksgiving 

thanksgiving annex
Photo retrieved from Pinterest.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     Longtime readers know that I have been fascinated for a while by the so-called War on Christmas. A kind of concocted outrage that seems designed to get viewers to return to certain news stations after the commercial break, drive up page views on websites, and outrage those who like to quickly pass along memes without thinking about them much. The complaint goes that Christmas is somehow being wiped out. 

     This is ludicrously wrong. Christmas is just fine. 

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Nerd Factor: You Might Be in Trouble This Halloween IV: A New Beginning

nerd factor
Photo retrieved from Pinterest.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     Wow, it’s the fourth year. You’ve been surviving these Halloween crises so well; folks are probably starting to look at you as the one who will save them all. But just because you’ve been so successful, don’t think you know it all. The Nerd Factor still has a lot of wisdom to impart that will help you decide if you might be in trouble this Halloween. 

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Nerd Factor: Bad Treats


Photo retrieved from Pinterest of candy.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     Halloween is a holiday based on generosity, but that spirit is not completely selfless. Born of ancient beliefs that on a certain night, the door between the world of the living and the world of the dead opened, people thought it in their best interest to feed whomever. . . or whatever. . . stopped by. It was just safer that way. In America, that spiritual caution shifted into practical defense when very aggressive traditions of pranking developed, particularly in the Mid-West. The treat quite literally deferred the trick. 

     So while one might justifiably be shamed by others for not appreciating, say, a Christmas gift or a birthday present, I believe the origins of Halloween allow children to be judgmental. Young people should rightly ask if the candy adequately forestalled their holiday chaos. 

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Nerd Factor: In Praise of the Space Kook

Scooby and Shaggy encounter the Space Kook. 

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     Over a bleak landscape, an otherworldly vehicle flies across the dusky horizon. Its dilapidated condition creates a haunting sense, amplified by the pulsing red lights from its cockpit and the bizarre electronic sound of its engines. After the craft sets down, a strange figure makes its way up the dirt road towards the viewer. The blue space suit seems to glow in the low light as the being lopes forward with a strange gait. As it nears, a blue skull is visible through the suit’s helmet dome. The dome glows red and the skull screams an eerie laugh.

That scream sent a chill down my very young spine. While there have been many more popular culture frights fired along my central nervous system since then, as the season of scares near, I find myself nostalgic for my youthful first encounter with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!’s Space Kook.

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