I believe this is an interesting question since superstition borders with many mental issues such as phobias; fear of the dark, of elevators, of heights. Phobias have already been discussed here, and I must admit I suffer from some of those, like fear of great heights...
How would you differentiate for example fear of black cats, of thenumber 13, walking under a ladder or not stepping on cracks on the sidewalk with other irrational fears like fear of airplanes, of being on a boat of being in the dark or fear of crowds?
Of course, the first ones I mentionned belong to the realm of superstition beliefs, but one versus the other, in my mind, the line is kind of blurred. I'd say with certainty that I'm not superstitious, but if I was wrong ?
Do sun and moon eclipses hold a significance other than the scientific one for everybody, I would not believe so... and then we get into the realm of witches...
In western culture, all through history, witches have had a bad reputation and lots of negative connotations attached to them, even if some were merely healers or abortionists. (though, these days I believe they have become fashionable).
And witches, in some cultures, or in some regions (such as in Africa) or at some point in history were highly regarded (almost like the jester in court). These belief systems as the one with superstition can be easily equated to some form of religion. Anyway, I'd be very curious to have some feed-back on this and get more enlightened. I haven't done my google study yet !!! but will do...
From my reading of the articles in Wikipedia on Superstition and Phobia gives me the impression that phobias are pathologically based whilst superstition is based on learned beliefs and associations.
Here are the Wikipedia entries, I also added "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" page.
It deals with logical fallacies.
Religion is of the same domain as superstition. Both are learned.
Phobias are mental quirks that can become debilitating.
The reason phobias and superstitions might get confused is that they are not mutually exclusive in which case they can reinforce one another.
Atheism only states that there is no divinity ruling the world and its humans.
Some people become godless because they exercised critical thinking, for others it is more a gut response to abuse and suffering caused by religion. Though atheism can be rooted in skepticism, it can also be the seed of skepticism, so not all atheists are on the same page regarding how things unfold in the universe.
Yes there are superstitious atheists.
We've even been visited here by some who claimed the status of atheist yet believed very strongly in ETs having created life on this planet...
I have also "met" online, atheists who believed in ghosts. Also atheists who would not want a hotel room in the 13th floor.
If you scratch the surface, we all behave in superstitious way sometimes. I will not, for instance, mention certain ills in relationship with my family. I know it's dumb, saying "cancer" does not cause cancer. But it still makes me uncomfortable, so I avoid it. When I was a student, I always went to take written tests with a brand new ball pen. I knew that the outcome of the test depended on me having studied and prepared for the test, not on the pen, but it still gave me comfort to hold the brand new Bic in my hands.
Not walking under a ladder is a superstition based on avoidance of injury because should you walk under a ladder and someone is working up the ladder and drops a tool or a piece of material that could land on your scone and cause injury or death. So! To save having to look up and see whether or not there is someone up the ladder it is easier to train your child or remind a friend and yourself not to walk under a ladder is by saying " to walk under a ladder is bad luck".
The superstition about breaking a mirror will bring seven years bad luck harks back to the days when the only common mirrors was polished metals such as brass , copper and costly silver. While mirrors made from glass were even more costly than the metal silver mirror. Therefore to ensure that a glass mirror was treated well so that it lasted a long time. The superstition grew that breaking a mirror brought seven years bad luck.
Our forebears were more superstitious than what even our grandparents were.
Epiphenom: Repetitious magic ritual are thought to be more ef...: Magical rituals - routines designed to bring about a real-world effect, like curing disease or cursing a rival - have been part of human s...
Interesting from above "Legare thinks that the the problem with magical rituals is that it's very hard to know whether or not they work. So, in the absence of evidence, we tend to go for ones that intuitively seem more likely to work. And that means ones with more steps and more repetitions"
We are not only superstitious but love complicated and complex superstitions
Yes. Fear doesn't have to be logical, even if you are.
George Scialabba in New Inquiry:
Pretty bad. Here is a sample of factlets from surveys and studies conducted in the past twenty years. Seventy percent of Americans believe in the existence of angels. Fifty percent believe that the earth has been visited by UFOs; in another poll, 70 percent believed that the U.S. government is covering up the presence of space aliens on earth. Forty percent did not know whom the U.S. fought in World War II. Forty percent could not locate Japan on a world map. Fifteen percent could not locate the United States on a world map. Sixty percent of Americans have not read a book since leaving school. Only 6 percent now read even one book a year. According to a very familiar statistic that nonetheless cannot be repeated too often, the average American’s day includes six minutes playing sports, five minutes reading books, one minute making music, 30 seconds attending a play or concert, 25 seconds making or viewing art, and four hours watching television.
Among high-school seniors surveyed in the late 1990s, 50 percent had not heard of the Cold War. Sixty percent could not say how the United States came into existence. Fifty percent did not know in which century the Civil War occurred. Sixty percent could name each of the Three Stooges but not the three branches of the U.S. government. Sixty percent could not comprehend an editorial in a national or local newspaper.
Intellectual distinction isn’t everything, it’s true. But things are amiss in other areas as well: sociability and trust, for example. “During the last third of the twentieth century,” according to Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone, “all forms of social capital fell off precipitously.” Tens of thousands of community groups – church social and charitable groups, union halls, civic clubs, bridge clubs, and yes, bowling leagues — disappeared; by Putnam’s estimate, one-third of our social infrastructure vanished in these years. Frequency of having friends to dinner dropped by 45 percent; card parties declined 50 percent; Americans’ declared readiness to make new friends declined by 30 percent. Belief that most other people could be trusted dropped from 77 percent to 37 percent. Over a five-year period in the 1990s, reported incidents of aggressive driving rose by 50 percent — admittedly an odd, but probably not an insignificant, indicator of declining social capital.
Still, even if American education is spotty and the social fabric is fraying, the fact that the U.S. is the world’s richest nation must surely make a great difference to our quality of life?
Posted by Robin Varghese at 10:41 AM | Permalink
This is realy really bad and also unbelievable but... Are we such a minority of decent relatively well educated and AWARE human beings ? It would seem so from these statistics; and is this bad state of affair world wide ?
Just thinking about it is enough to discourage me...
Yesterday at my son's graduation, the commencement speaker, Soledad O' Brien (CNN journalist), related how Vogue once wanted to interview her and asked her what was the best advice her mother, a Cuban immigrant, had ever given her. She told Vogue that they were not going to like it, but they insisted, "no, it'll be touching, deep, etc, etc., daughter-mom, etc". So Soledad O'Brien told them the best advice her mother had ever given her was "Most people are idiots". Vogue never carried out the interview, proving that O'Brien's mom indeed gave her very good advice! Sometimes I do feel like most people are idiots. I try not to think that way, because it's a bit misanthropic, but there are times where it sure feels O'Brien's mom knew what she was talking about!
Is it really that they are idiots or just not all that caring about the world around them when they are alive. It seems to be that they are missing the main benefit of being alive - learning about their surroundings.
"I want to be the first dog on the moon"
I agree - religion, superstition, etc... these all relate to "learned behaviors". On a "personal note" - As an Atheist raised with religion, I continuously catch myself assigning superstitious values to situations, such as; "Murpheys Law", etc... These "learned situational thought associations" are very difficult to break.