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Vol. 28 No. 4
July-August 2006

The Irrationality of Being — Fear of All Snakes, Spiders, . . . and Chemicals

by David A. Evans

I admit to being terrified of snakes, even when I recognize a nonpoisonous species. My daughter will not enter a room if she suspects the presence of a spider—even though she knows that there are no harmful spiders in the UK where we live. We are both scientists, but to be provided with any amount of profound and convincing evidence that these species are benign does not remove our fear. It is not a matter of trust, it is simply an irrational response. But knowledge does help—we do not kill these species and we recognize their beneficial role in their environment.

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