In Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, we are introduced to Ned Land as he is talking with professor Aronnax, and he says this:
"That's just where you're mistaken, professor," Ned replied. "The common man may still believe in fabulous comets crossing outer space, or in prehistoric monsters living at the earth's core, but astronomers and geologists don't swallow such fairy tales."
Land claims that there were fabulous (i.e. exaggerated) stories of comets commonly believed at the time but not accepted by astronomers. But at the time the book was published (1870), I believe comets were commonly studied by astronomers. Why did he say this? Maybe I am missing some historical context.