Matt Kaplan, The Science of Monsters (ScienceFriday.com, Oct. 26, 2012)
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Like lion cubs play-fighting in the safety of their den, monsters may be allowing threats to be toyed with in the safe sandbox of the imagination.
So if monsters are present in society for both pleasure and mental practice for future frightening interactions, what happens when our fears are overcome? What then?
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The Minotaur is no longer with us, but aliens are. In a sense, monsters, while strictly the stuff of fantasy, experience evolution at a rate that is in stride with the pace of human understanding of the surrounding world. Science, the empirical testing and exploration of the world, which is about as seemingly unrelated to monsters as can be... [actually only denies their existence because of acceptability-filters not because of an absence of evidence.]
[Excerpted from Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters (Scribner). Copyright © 2012 by Matt Kaplan. Kaplan is a science journalist and a regular contributor to The Economist. He has also written for National Geographic, New Scientist, Nature, Scientific American, Science, BBC Wildlife, and The New York Times. When not chained to a desk, he travels the wilds of the world as part of a London expedition group. He lives in London.]