Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Friday, June 09, 2006

Question of the Day #46 : Superstition

Image hosting by PhotobucketDo you ever find yourself being superstitious despite your complete awareness of the irrationality of it? If so, why do you think this happens?

My wife has the uncanny ability to find a good space in a crowded parking lot, and I find myself believing she has something I call "parking karma" even though I know it's total nonsense. I also believe it's "bad luck" to kill spiders, although I logically know squashing one would have no more effect on my "fate" than swatting a fly. Somehow I can't shake these feelings and probably a few others (besides the obvious one, thank you) that defy reason.

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At 6/10/2006 4:16 AM, Blogger Blu_Matt declaimed...

To be frank, yes.

I find myself crossing my fingers when I walk under a ladder. While I know that this is cultural conditioning and won't change a thing concerning 'luck', I am grateful that, at least on some level, I'm aware of my environment and have a slightly heightened awareness of any potential bucket of paint (or something heavier) that might drop on my head.

I like to think of it in the same way as crossing the road: if I'm not careful, I could end up as roadkill.

At 6/10/2006 4:16 AM, Blogger olly declaimed...

I personally think it goes back to something I read on God is for Suckers, regarding the 'superstition gene' or whatever you want to call it. Post can be found here

In the end I think that we do have instinctual needs to understand things in a system. We are genetically predisposed to dislike randomness. Your wife's apparent 'ability' is nothing more then random coincidence, but our instinctual 'systemizing' of things doesn't let us leave it that way.

Religion is the easy way out. It's a system without being forced to actually come up with good REASONS for the system.

Irrational superstition is, on some level, laziness on the part of the actor to a.) come up with a logical reason, or b.) accept that chance and randomness DO in fact exist.


At 6/10/2006 7:22 AM, Blogger Joe Otten declaimed...

I think parking karma is just good instinctive psychology. At every turn you just have to think: where is the car in front of me less likely to have gone.

At 6/10/2006 3:58 PM, Blogger Hellbound Alleee declaimed...

I've looked at myself and I just can't find any superstition anywhere. There is just not a moment I can think of where I don't examine the rationality of beliefs like that. There is always a real reason to do anything, and it never, ever involves the universe being aware of what you do. Does killing a spider have effect? You bet your ass it does. My dad saw a black widow in the garage one season, and he thought "it's kind of cute, I'll leave it alone." Soon enough, the garage was infested with hundreds of baby black widow spiders.

Would I leave most spiders alone? You bet. Most of them are pretty harmless and eat mosquitoes. Do I walk under ladders? Sure, if nobody is on them, and I never move them, because they are obviously in use.

Parking karma? No,no more than any other kind of karma. There are either spaces, or there aren't, and some people are more alert when it comes to seeing a car getting ready to leave than others. Luck? For sure, I'd call it luck. But there's no reason there's something out there watching you. I look at it this way: if I had those beliefs, I owe it to myself to examine them. Is there a demon up in the sky, lying in wait to grant me a wish, or harm me? Of course not. Believing in the demon is the same thing as believing in karma, or the universe. It's all cause and effect, baby.

At 6/10/2006 6:49 PM, Blogger Boss Foxx declaimed...

I do the ol' "knock on wood" thing a lot. Can't explain why really... it's just a quirk that I got from my childhood and never shook.

I suppose we all need a little superstition in our lives though. For some it's knocking on wood, for others it's going to church every Sunday.

At 6/10/2006 10:36 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

I have no belief that any superstitious act makes a difference, but I will sometimes knock wood, or say "knock wood" because it is easier than saying "Assuming and hoping that all goes according to plan." I sometimes throw spilled salt over my left shoulder because when I was a kid, it was the only time I could throw food in front of my mom. It still amuses me to do so occasionally, and it's also something of a cultural tie. So it's not a rain dance. So my ancestors had no talent. Can I help that?

At 6/12/2006 2:18 PM, Blogger Brucker declaimed...

"I've looked at myself and I just can't find any superstition anywhere."

Do you think you really don't have it, or that it may simply be too subtle to notice? Sometimes it's not even a supernatural superstition, I think, but rather a concept that you feel the need to perform some sort of ritual that there isn't neccessarily a solid reason behind.

You know, a real common od belief I see in women is the tendency to believe something like "eating a pound of chocolate will make you gain five pounds". Elementary physics tells you that would mean four pounds of matter materializing ex nihilo into your body, which is nonsense. Or "I gain weight when I just *look* at a cupcake!" Some people say it jokingly, but others, you will find, sincerely mean it.

Do you believe you couldn't possibly start the day without a cup of coffee? Do you find yourself thinking that when a character in a movie or television program addresses the camera, that they are talking to you? Do you play the lottery, thinking you actually have a reasonable chance of winning? None of these are "superstitions" per se, but fall into the same pattern of thinking.



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