Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (via thedragoninmygarage)
Fears in modern-city dwellers protect us from dangers that no longer exist, and fail to protect us from dangers in the world around us. We ought to be afraid of guns, driving fast, driving without a seatbelt, lighter fluid, and hair dryers near bathtubs, not of snakes and spiders. Public safety officials try to strike fear in the hearts of citizens using everything from statistics to shocking photographs, usually to no avail. Parents scream and punish to deter their children from playing with matches or chasing a ball into the street, but when Chicago schoolchildren were asked what they were most afraid of, they cited lions, tigers and snakes, unlikely hazards in the Windy City