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Thread: Superstitions that are still with us....Yours?

  1. #101  
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    On the face of it there seems to be a similarity with superstitions and obsessive compulsive disorders.

    I wonder if some people who have superstitions really believe them or just like the feeling of entertaining them.

    I feel I am entirely unsuperstitious but it will require the engagement of my conscious brain to decide whether to walk under a ladder You could say it actually makes the event more dangerous in that the superstition distracts me as I try to clear my brain and work out if I should take the risk or not -it is not automatic and so perhaps indirectly I am an slave to this superstition.
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  2. #102  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    On the face of it there seems to be a similarity with superstitions and obsessive compulsive disorders.

    I wonder if some people who have superstitions really believe them or just like the feeling of entertaining them.

    I feel I am entirely unsuperstitious but it will require the engagement of my conscious brain to decide whether to walk under a ladder You could say it actually makes the event more dangerous in that the superstition distracts me as I try to clear my brain and work out if I should take the risk or not -it is not automatic and so perhaps indirectly I am an slave to this superstition.
    Yet, as others have pointed out, walking under anything that has the potential to fall upon you is actually a valid safety concern which has somehow evolved into a superstition. If anything, it would make me ponder the origins of many other superstitions to consider whether or not there was a logical reason in the beginning which then became distorted and devolved unto irrational belief.
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  3. #103  
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    Since ladders have perhaps been with us since the Flintstone era it is amusing to wonder how long this particular superstition has been with us.

    Maybe it had different associations down the years.
    Last edited by geordief; July 28th, 2014 at 05:30 AM.
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  4. #104  
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Here's an interesting little story - Monkeys using researchers as human shields. Monkeys Use Researchers as Human Shields | IFLScience

    "The researchers set up feeding stations at various levels in the forest and looked at a fear measure known as 'giving-up densities'.”
    In the presence of humans, monkeys would take more risks and deplete more food at lower (normally riskier) levels than when humans were not there.

    So, in regards to our superstition discussion - how long did it take them to realize "Hey, no one gets eaten by a leopard when these guys are around!" Do they know why or care? Would they be intelligent enough to form a superstition, like "humans are good luck!"

    I suppose what makes some human superstitions even less rational than whatever theory the monkeys have, is that most of us have not actually experienced 7 years of bad luck after breaking a mirror, or injured our mothers spine while walking on sidewalks - we've only heard these sayings - also from people who have not actually witnessed these things, so it is odd that they persist in popular culture, along with chain letters/emails.
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  5. #105  
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    I think luck-based superstitions serve a role by helping us put things in perspective. Remembering that life is really a numbers game, and if you place your bets carefully, then you get the best odds. You can't have certainty, and if you try to have it you'll probably get yourself hurt or killed.

    So really a soldier who kisses their bullet is just trying to put them self in the right mindset for the coming day. Survival will be about "making yourself as lucky as possible" by minimizing unnecessary risks. If the ritual helps get them started thinking that way, then it's a good idea to do it.

    The consistent, disciplined, rituals that are associated with fictitious reduction of risk are virtually identical to those habits which professionals in dangerous fields must observe on a daily basis to maximise their chances. But doing something that has no guarantee of a return is counter intuitive. So sometimes you have to do something absurd in order to get yourself started thinking that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    I'm not superstitious about anything. Also, I'm thinking it not appropriate for an atheist to ever be superstitious about anything for any reason. I've always thought that belief in a God is a form of superstition.



    But I might as well ask, how do other members feel about that?
    That is a "socially accepted" superstition.

    Years ago I had a therapist, to whom I recounted some of my personal superstitious beliefs, and she suggested to me that I might be delusional. But I had overheard her earlier discussing the possibility of turning to a "higher power" with a christian lady. Apparently god is a "sane" superstition.
    Last edited by kojax; August 1st, 2014 at 06:41 AM.
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  6. #106  
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    There are many great books on the science of superstition that, for anyone interested, would answer the question on this topic. The Science of Superstition (formally known as Supersense) by Bruce Hood, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition by Stuart Vyse, and The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer. All great books in my opinion but Shermer definitely tends to be the least scientific out of the 3.

    Superstition is very complex as there are many different aspects and different types of superstition. Many superstitions tend to only appear during events that need "luck" like going up to bat in baseball, going out on a mission as a soldier, going out hunting or fishing as a hunter/gatherer and things of this nature. You will notice that baseball players have many types of superstitions right before they bat where the chances of getting on base are normally less than 50% but they won't have superstitions about fielding the ball where chances of fielding are probably over 90%. Much like what you guys have been saying in this thread, it's a way to try to get the odds on your side.

    But there are superstitions that everyone has. Bruce Hood in The Science of Superstition goes into great detail about this in his book and this superstition is called "essentialism". In an experiment done by Hood, most people in the study wouldn't wear a cardigan that was owned and worn by a known serial killer Fred West. Hood based this experiment off of the work of Paul Rozin who researches a similar idea at the University of Pennsylvania. Why won't people wear the killer's cardigan? Most people cannot even say but is more based on feeling. There is a belief that an "evil essence" that has transferred to the cardigan that even the most atheistic person may not deny. There is no real essence but we feel it just like we feel disgust on our hands after being in an incredibly busy airport or Disney World. Anyone know anything about our cognitive contagion system, it works off of this. This idea of essentialism is very widespread in the New Age religion of today as well as other religions.

    This is kind of off-topic but we tend to see that religions may make these ideas up but it seems that these belief systems are already in place in our cognitive systems and people just implement them into religions. Other natural cognitive mechanisms that get implemented into religions are ideas like the afterlife, karma, chi and many other aspects of religion that seem to be reoccurring all around the world.
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  7. #107  
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    I follow a routine, before a show. What I eat, drink etc.
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