“Of the 298 classes of objects of fear, to which 1,707 persons confessed, thunder and lightning lead all the rest. But is there any factual justification for this fear? We believe there is not. As proof we may cite statistics of the United States Weather Bureau. For the years 1890–1893 the deaths from lightning numbered an average of 196 a year. Indeed if one can go by statistics, the risk of meeting death by a horse kick in New York is over 50 percent greater than that of death by lightning.”
—Scientific American, July 1898
More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our anniversary archive page.