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The only thing we have to fear

Ken Jennings Posted by Ken Jennings.

Ken Jennings, Ph.D. is a senior partner at VentureWorks and a managing partner at Third River Partners, a consultancy that specializes in leadership development and strategy execution.

The only thing we have to fear

In my new “Debunker” column posted today on Woot.com, I track the lineage of the bizarre trivia factoid that holds that “arachibutyrophobia” is a medical term meaning “the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.”

I can find no evidence for this in any clinical literature, but was able to track the word back to 1970s pop-reference classic The People’s Almanac. The almanac’s author, David Wallechinsky, tells me that the phobias list came from a writer named Robert Hendrickson, who assembled it from extensive research and even interviews. But the paper trail here is a set of notes that was recently donated by Wallechinsky, with the rest of his papers, to Claremont University.

Is anyone in L.A. dying to spend a day at Claremont in order to find out if those files contain the provenance of “arachibutyrophobia”? Science needs you.