Monday, 27 April 2020

The sound of a dentist's drill

Most people find this sound unpleasant, the usual explanation is "because you associate it with something unpleasant - having your teeth drilled".

I think it is more fundamental than that. Humans, and presumably most mammals, have an evolutionary and instinctive dislike of mosquitoes and midges. When you hear one, it really puts you on edge; you can't relax until you've killed it or it's gone away. It's hardly surprising that a dentist's drill has the effect.

The same goes for garden strimmers. Lawnmover, power drills etc are annoying simply because they are loud and monotonous. But they don't annoy me half as much as the sound of a much higher pitched strimmer.

9 comments:

DCBain said...

There's only one thing more annoying than a Stihl stone-cutting saw - TWO Stihl stune-cutting saws!

Mark Wadsworth said...

DCB, I've not heard one recently. Are they that bad?

Ralph Musgrave said...

And while we're on the subject of evolution and gardens, why do people like gardening? It's because since humans stated growing crops, there's been genetic selection in favour of people who like looking after plants.

And why do people like having pets? Because since agriculture started there's been genetic selection in favour of people who like looking after animals.

Bayard said...

RM, that's probably true for fighting as well: why do people like fighting? because, in the primitive world, if you didn't like looking after plants or animals, what else was there for you to do?

benj said...

Why haven't mosquitoes evolved to fly silently? On the other hand, they appear to have developed the strategy of waiting 10 minuets after the lights go out (presumably to make sure you are asleep) before swooping in to bite. Pretty annoying as you have to get the light on quick and squash the blighter, else you have wait for another ten minuets before another reappearance.

Smoke puts them off. Perhaps a reason our ancestors took up the habit?

L fairfax said...

Surely the easy way to test this, would be to ask if people who never have had any fillings etc - have the same reaction to it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RM and B, yes, same goes for all sorts of traits.

B, good questions. That side effect of smoke is a bonus.

LF, good idea. But the test subjects must be blissfully aware of what a dentist's drill sounds like. Funnily enough, the sound doesn't bother me. It's injections that terrify me. So I make the poor dentist drill me without anaesthetic. That way he is extra careful!

Lola said...

OTH the ear-drum smashing wail of a Matra or Ferrari V12 at full chat, or the 200's V10 GP engines, are music to some ears. Mine for example. (A DFV is pretty good too).

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, if you are into that sort of thing and it is in context (race meet), it is glorious. If you're trying to get to sleep and they're bombing past your house, then not so funny.