It doesn't matter that I know most spiders aren't dangerous to humans. There's just something about them that makes me want to scream and run the other way. I imagine the same is true regardless what one fears. I justify my spider panic with saying that I live in Florida and there are deadly spiders here, like the Black Widow and Brown Recluse.
It's true, from a certain point of view, namely mine. Not long ago, I saw a spider in the bedroom. My husband had to come home from work to take it out.
The creepy crawlies also have an important function to fill in the eco system, and statistics claim my fear is illogical. According to the website venomousspiders.net, an average of 6.6 people die from spider bites every year in the US. Considering the population is some 314 million, it should be safe enough. Emotionally, I'm not convinced.
I'm not afraid of dogs, but a lot of people are. Some are afraid of dogs in general, others of specific breeds. Most statistics agree; around a dozen people in the US die from dog bites each year. Oh my, dogs are almost twice as dangerous as spiders! On the other hand, 6.6 or 12 people out of 314 million, I think the difference is negligible.
What was that? More than twelve people were bit by dogs? Sure, but more than six people were bit by spiders too, and they didn't die either. ;-)
Everyone, including me, fears something, and it's a part of human nature to try to rationalize that fear. Believing that something is true might make it true for me, but not for the world in general. This might sound self-evident, but as the world moves faster and faster, and the actions and words of each individual weigh heavier than ever before, it's important to keep the self-evident in mind.
When it comes to dogs, the American Temperament Test Society performs tests on various dog breeds every year. They measure different aspects of temperament, such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness, as well as the dog's instinct for protectiveness towards its person, and self-preservation in the face of a threat. This is done through simulating a casual walk in a park or neighborhood where the dog will experience various stimuli, and neutral, friendly, and threatening situations.
I find the ATTS statistics fascinating. Their statistics are cumulative, but some breeds have been tested more than others, and that will affect the final numbers. If only a handful of individuals have gone through the test, the results won't be statistically significant. (I personally believe the owner matters more than the breed for how a dog will turn out, but there are differences between breeds. If there weren't, all dogs would look the same. ;-)
Also, one shouldn't read too much into these types of numbers. Looking at the list below, some people might draw the conclusion that all Chihuahuas are dangerous, and that's not what the table says.
Here are some of their results for popular breeds. You can see the entire list here, it's long and spread out over a number of pages.
|American Pit Bull Terrier||870||755||115||86.8%|
|American Staffordshire Terrier||657||555||102||84.5%|
|Australian Cattle Dog||194||153||41||78.9%|
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel||55||46||9||83.6%|
|Dachshund (standard smooth)||48||33||15||68.8%|
|English Cocker Spaniel||71||66||5||93.0%|
|Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever||30||22||8||73.3%|
|Old English Sheepdog||49||38||11||77.6%|
|Staffordshire Bull Terrier||129||117||12||90.7%|