Random, Terrifying Facts To Keep You Up At Night

I cannot tell you how thrilled I was this week to find that the temperature was dropping and that it finally felt like fall. It's my favorite season for a huge variety of reasons — but the biggest reason of all? Halloween. Not because I necessarily enjoy the holiday itself, but because it's the one time of year freaky stories and facts are outright celebrated. So let's usher in the season by taking a look at a whole bunch of random, terrifying facts geared towards keeping you up at night, shall we? There's no time like the present. Literally.

Today's plethora of strange, mysterious, and spooky things comes to us via what I'm going to consider the very first thematically appropriate AskReddit thread of the season. Begun this morning by Redditor zwackoo, whose motivation was simply, “r/nosleep isn't cutting it,” it solicits the weirdest, scariest facts the Reddit community has squirreled away in its collective brain. Interestingly, there does seem to be a common theme threading its way through many of the responses: They remind us of our own mortality. We all know that we're going to die one day, but most of us don't regularly spend time thinking about the fact that “one day” could actually be tomorrow, or today, or three seconds from now. The risk varies from person to person, of course… but even if it isn't likely to happen, it still could. And that? Is plenty scary all on its own.

Here are 10 of my favorite responses. The thread is still chugging along, though, so head on over to AskReddit for more.

You weren't really planning on sleeping tonight, right?

1. You can die in your sleep suddenly and without warning.

According to the Surrey Cardiovascular Clinic, sudden death syndrome can occur to anyone. We also have no idea why it happens.

And nested in that same comment thread, we have...

2. Hearts actually do break.

Thankfully, the American Heart Association says broken heart syndrome is treatable — but still.

3. About that whole “privacy mode” thing…

There is, in fact, an entire website devoted to showing us exactly how un-private private browsing is. Just, y'know… FYI.

4. Guess how many active serial killers there are right now?

Actually this figure might not be totally accurate; as Bustle's Gabrielle Moss pointed out earlier today, former chief of the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unite John Douglas says it's 25 to 50. I'm not sure whether that actually makes you feel any better about it, but the more you know, right?

5. A flood basalt eruption might be preparing to destroy your town as we speak.

I mean, it probably isn't… but it could be.

6. The world might end with a bang, not a whimper, and you won't even see it coming.

At least, as io9 noted back in 2014, there's hope with regards to the false vacuum collapse (as long as we don't screw it up).

7. We're all so very tiny in the grand scheme of things.

I actually find this kind of comforting — but let's also not forget that, if enough people make the same mistake over and over and over again, we run the risk of ruining everything for successive generations. Like climate change and the economy.

8. Do you really know what's behind you?

Hi there, Oculus.

9. Uh… this.

To be honest, I don't actually know if this is true. But points for style, kauhaus — as Ash Ketchum might say, it's super effective.

10. Roko's Basilisk

David Auerbach at Slate explained Roko's Basilisk like this:

What if, in the future, a somewhat malevolent AI were to come about and punish those who did not do its bidding?

What if there were a way ... for this AI to punish people today who are not helping it come into existence later? In that case, weren't the readers of LessWrong [the board on which the thought experiment originated] right then being given the choice of either helping that evil AI come into existence or being condemned to suffer?

And here's why it's so scary, according to LessWrong founder Eliezer Yudowsky:

YOU DO NOT THINK IN SUFFICIENT DETAIL ABOUT SUPERINTELLIGENCES CONSIDERING WHETHER OR NOT TO BLACKMAIL YOU. THT IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE THING WHICH GIVES THEM A MOTIVE TO FOLLOW THROUGH ON THE BLACKMAIL. You have to be really clever to come up with a genuinely dangerous thought. I am disheartened that people can be clever enough to do that and not clever enough to do the obvious thing and KEEP THEIR IDIOT MOUTH SHUT about it.

So … me and my idiot mouth are going to go hide in a corner now.

Sorry, everyone.

Images: martinak15/Flickr; Giphy (5)