Meteorologists: the least-creepy people out there

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Congratulations to Scott Fisher, Mark Murray, Jim Spencer, Chikage Windler and the rest of Central Texas’ meteorologists. You are apparently the least-creepy people out there.

Researchers at Knox College, in Illinois, recently conducted what might be the first-ever empirical study of creepiness. Their work included ranking the public’s perception of how creepy various professions are, from least to most. Meteorologists finished as the least creepy, ahead even of teachers, farmers, college professors and doctors. (Writers finished in the middle of the pack, right alongside actors, so, um … yay us?)

That’s the good news. The most-creepy professions, according to the study, were taxi drivers, funeral directors, sex-shop owners, taxidermists and — wait for it; wait for it — clowns.

Because of course clowns are the creepiest. Of course they are. How could clowns not be the creepiest? What could be creepier than clowns?

The researchers write that creepiness is more than just a response our brains developed to the threat of violence: “It is our belief that creepiness is anxiety aroused by the ambiguity of whether there is something to fear or not and/or by the ambiguity of the precise nature of the threat (e.g., sexual, physical violence, contamination, etc) that might be present.”

Also — if a profession inspires a horror novel and has terrified whole generations, it’s probably creepy.

Nothing to fear with meteorologists, though. The study does not differentiate between television forecasters and the roughly 90 percent of meteorologists who are not on air, but we’ll assume our friends at the National Weather Service are on the not-creepy end of things. (I can personally confirm that Paul Yura and his crew are among the nicest people out there, and most definitely not creepy.)

Still, it’s safe to suppose the study respondents had television personalities in mind. And they scored exceptionally well. That is probably in part because television forecasters tend to be well groomed (greasy hair and odd dress are among the characteristics of a creep, according to the study), they generally don’t make a habit of staring at people before interacting with them (another characteristic of a creep) and they don’t have a peculiar smile (they’re on television and so tend to be telegenic).

The creepiness rankings are based on 1,341 peoples’ responses, most of which came from American women. A Washington Post blog focused on respondents’ answers about what hobbies are creepy. Bird watching was listed among the creepiest, a correlation the blog attributes in part to the use of binoculars. Another blogger suggests dealing with this perception by turning the binoculars away from windows.

The creepiest hobby, according to the study, is “collecting things,” particularly insects and reptiles.