The Worst Sound In The World

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 24 2012 @ 8:02am

"A knife on a bottle" takes the prize, beating out "nails on a chalkboard" (listen to the finalists here):

Previously, scientists have speculated that we might found these sorts of high-pitched sounds so irritating because they acoustically resemble the alarm calls of our primate relatives, such as chimpanzees. At some point in our evolutionary history, the theory goes, we evolved the innate tendency to find these alarm calls emotionally terrifying so that we would be more likely to act upon them and avoid predators. Theoretically, this tendency might have stuck, despite the fact that fingernails scratching on a chalkboard have nothing to do with actual predators.