Perhaps you’ve seen this story about Steve Irwin feeding crocs while holding his infant son. I was initially appalled by this as was most everyone I knew. But I’m beginning to have second thoughts.

You see, parents always judge what’s dangerous to their children by what they fear. When I used to teach swimming, I found that kids who were afraid of water usually had a parent who was afraid. One mother in particular was terrified that her young daughter would be in the pool. However, to the rest of us this seemed like a perfectly safe activity. Twist this just a bit, and you have a man who apparently has no fear of crocodiles. To him, feeding one from his hand is perfectly safe. To those of us with a healthy fear of reptiles with teeth and snouts longer than our arms, this looks nuts. Given that Irwin has obviously survived many such croc feedings, holding his son while doing it probably didn’t seem more dangerous to him than us taking the little one for a dip in the pool.

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