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Thirteen Common (But Silly) Superstitions

via Discovery News

THE GIST

  • One study found that superstitions can sometimes work
  • The make a wish on a turkey bone saying dates back to first-century Romans.
  • The word friggatriskaidekaphobics describes those afraid of Friday the 13th.

cat_250pxIf you are spooked by Friday the 13th, you’re in for a whammy of a year. And it would come as no surprise if many among us hold at least some fear of freaky Friday, as we humans are a superstitious lot.

Many superstitions stem from the same human trait that causes us to believe in monsters and ghosts: When our brains can’t explain something, we make stuff up. In fact, a 2010 study found that superstitions can sometimes work, because believing in something can improve performance on a task.

Here, then, are 13 of the most common superstitions.

13. Beginner’s luck

Usually grumbled by an expert who just lost a game to a novice, “beginner’s luck” is the idea that newbies are unusually likely to win when they try out a sport, game or activity for the first time.

Beginners might come out ahead in some cases because the novice is less stressed out about winning. Too much anxiety, after all, can hamper performance. Or it could just be a statistical fluke, especially in chance-based gambling games.

Or, like many superstitions, a belief in beginner’s luck might arise because of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a psychological phenomenon in which people are more likely to remember events that fit their worldview. If you believe you’re going to win because you’re a beginner, you’re more likely to remember all the times you were right — “and forget the times you ended up in last place.

lucky_penny_for_one-dollar_250px12. Find a penny, pick it up . . .

And all day long, you’ll have good luck. This little ditty may arise because finding money is lucky in and of itself. But it might also be a spin-off of another old rhyme, “See a pin, pick it up/ and all day long you’ll have good luck/ See a pin, let it lay/ and your luck will pass y.”

11. Don’t walk under that ladder!

Frankly, this superstition is pretty practical. Who wants to be responsible for stumbling and knocking a carpenter off his perch? But one theory holds that this superstition arises from a Christian belief in the Holy Trinity: Since a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle, “breaking” that triangle was blasphemous.

Then again, another popular theory is that a fear of walking under a ladder has to do with its resemblance to a medieval gallows. We’re sticking with the safety-first explanation for this one.

10. Black cats crossing your path

As companion animals for humans for thousands of years, cats play all sorts of mythological roles. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered; today, Americans collectively keep more than 81 million cats as pets.

afterall-rabbit-feet-are-good-luckSo why keep a black cat out of your path? Most likely, this superstition arises from old beliefs in witches and their animal familiars, which were often said to take the form of domestic animals like cats.

9. A rabbit’s foot will bring you luck

Talismans and amulets are a time-honored way of fending off evil; consider the crosses and garlic that are supposed to keep vampires at bay. Rabbit feet as talismans may hark back to early Celtic tribes in Britain. They may also arise from hoodoo, a form of African-American folk magic and superstition that blends Native American, European and African tradition. [Rumor or Reality: The Creatures of Cryptozoology]

8. Bad luck comes in threes

Remember confirmation bias? The belief that bad luck comes in threes is a classic example. A couple things go wrong, and believers may start to look for the next bit of bad luck. A lost shoe might be forgotten one day, but seen as the third in a series of bad breaks the next.

MORE . . .

Sounds and Silence: Weaponized Noise – Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know

Could the world’s militaries really build lethal sonic weapons? Could infrasound really destroy a human being? How far away are we from the space-age sonic weapons of science fiction? Join Ben and Matt as they explore the rumors, fact and fiction surrounding the strange world of weaponized sound.

Via Sounds and Silence: Weaponized Noise – Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube.

Cryptids: Mermaids – Tales and Legends

In the modern age, tales of mermaids fall under the same category as stories of minotaurs or dragons. Sure, they seem like neat ideas, but no one actually believes such creatures could exist. If that’s the case, then why have sailors across centuries reported seeing humanoid, aquatic creatures on the waves? Is there any grain of truth within the claims? Tune in to learn more about alleged mermaid sightings, the problem of evidence (or lack thereof) and more.

via Cryptids: Mermaids – Tales and Legends – STDWYTK – YouTube.

Superstition

via The Skeptic s Dictionary – Skepdic.com

“The superstitious man is to the rogue what the slave is to the tyrant.” —Voltaire

superstition 140_300pxA superstition is a false belief based on ignorance (e.g., if we don’t beat the drums during an eclipse, the evil demon won’t return the sun to the sky), fear of the unknown (e.g., if we don’t chop up this chicken in just the right way and burn it according to tradition while uttering just the right incantations then the rain won’t come and our crops won’t grow and we’ll starve), trust in magic (e.g., if I put spit or dirt on my beautiful child who has been praised, the effects of the evil eye will be averted), trust in chance (if I open this book randomly and let my finger fall to any word that word will guide my future actions), or some other false conception of causation (e.g.,  homeopathy, therapeutic touch, vitalism, creationism, or that I’ll have good luck if I carry a rabbit’s foot or bad luck if a black cat crosses my path).

black cat03_250px_02The indiscriminate power of nature is obvious. For as long as humans have been making sounds and instruments, magical methods have been created in the attempt to control the forces of nature and the life and death matters of daily existence. Good and evil befall us without rhyme or reason. We imagine spirits or intelligible forces causing our good and bad fortune. We invent ways to placate them or direct them. Many of the superstitions we developed seemed to work because we didn’t know how to properly evaluate them. There are many instances of selective thinking that might lead to a superstitious belief that something is good or bad luck, for example. The “curse of Pele” exemplifies this kind of superstition. According to one website devoted to the legend of the Hawaiian goddess Pele:

It is well known to locals on the island of Hawaii, that there is a curse upon those who take one of Pele’s lava rocks. It is said that he who takes a lava rock, is taking something from Pele and shall receive bad luck because of it. In the old days people were said to die from the curse, but now you only receive bad luck.

Every day, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park receives several rocks from people who took them home from the park and are returning them because of the bad luck they’ve had since taking the rocks. Many of these people think there is a causal connection between their taking the rocks and their perceived bad luck because their bad luck came after they took the rocks. Of course, their perceived bad luck may have happened even if they hadn’t taken any rocks from the park. Or they may not have paid much attention to the “bad luck” had they not heard there was a curse associated with taking the rocks. Such people may . . .

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A Time for Reflection: Mirrors in Folklore and Superstition

By Josh Sanofsky via Who Forted? Magazine

Since mankind first saw its own reflection, we have been fascinated by surfaces that cast our image back to us. Possibly because of that fascination, there is an incredibly wide variety of superstitions, myths and urban legends surrounding mirrors specifically and reflective bodies in general.

Everyone has heard, for example, that breaking a mirror will bring seven years of bad luck. This superstition dates back to the Romans, who believed that life renewed itself every seven years, and that breaking a mirror would thus cause damage to the soul it was reflecting at the time for that duration.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a number of folk remedies for relieving the seven years of bad luck. Early American slaves believed that the bad luck could be washed away by immersing the pieces of the broken mirror in south-flowing water for seven hours. Another tale says that the seven years of bad luck may be kept from taking effect by grinding the shards of the mirror into a fine powder so that they no longer reflect any images at all. Still another says that putting the broken pieces in a bag and burying it will accomplish the same thing.

Mirrors were often used in magical and psychic rituals for scrying – remotely viewing another person or place – and communicating. They could also be used in magical rituals of divination – fortune telling and reading of the future. This was known as catoptromancy or enoptromancy, and was described in an ancient Greek text as being performed by lowering a mirror on a thread until

Keep Reading: A Time for Reflection: Mirrors in Folklore and Superstition | Who Forted? Magazine.

Top 10 Interesting Questions About Aliens

by Andres Trujillo via listverse.com

That we’re not alone in the universe is something no one knows but most suspect – not only because it is highly probable that there is another advanced form of life somewhere out there, but also because it is a highly fascinating subject that does a beautiful job at spurring our imagination. However, in imagining what such form of life could look like or behave like, we readily make a number of anthropocentric assumptions (that is, we assume they are like us to an unnecessary degree), some of which we are not even aware of. Our common idea of what an extraterrestrial being should look like has been largely shaped by depictions in arts and entertainment that were, in one way or another, created to be relatable and convenient for storytelling purposes, while compromising verisimilitude. If we live in a multiverse, then practically any kind of being we could possibly conceive has existed or will exist at some point. But let’s pretend that humanity is on the verge of making first contact with a single species, a civilization that dwells on a planet close to ours. What can and what can we not assume about them? What do we have to wonder about them? Let us explore, in the spirit of speculation, a number of factors that merit some thought – and how they are related to both science fiction and real science.

10.   Appearance

It’s not just that we imagine them to be humanoid (standing on two legs, two limbs coming out of the sides of the upper torso, a head with a nose, a mouth, ears, and eyes); it’s that we imagine them to appear earthling-like at all. Even when we try to diverge most from the typical humanoid appearance that science fiction gives to extraterrestrials, we can’t help but envision them as sharing a general morphology with Earth’s fauna: reptiles, crustaceans, or, at best, insects – only of human size or slightly bigger. The rationale behind this is actually not as faulty as it may seem. If we build our imagined extraterrestrial from the ground up, we make anthropocentric assumptions about their morphology out of necessity. After all, we are the only intelligent species that we know of, and therefore the only instance that we can study of evolution reaching such a state. First, we assume that any intelligent species had to arise from some sort of biochemistry similar to ours. Then the resulting life form had to achieve a multicellular state, so as to develop a dedicated brain. It had to develop a skeleton of sorts to cope with gravity, and its body had to grow up to a minimum size such that its brain developed the level of cognition that we enjoy. It had to grow at least a pair of limbs to move around with and a pair to use tools. It also has to have a set of senses to interact with its world and a body big and strong enough to thrive in its ecosystem. In the end, it’s just simpler to not think outside the box.

Read the remaining Top 10 Interesting Questions About Aliens.

ECT Follow up: Ancient Aliens Cover-up: How Myths are Created

Posted by via The Soap Box

On a previous blog post I wrote about Ancient Alien theorists believe that not only have aliens visited us in the past, but that they also believe that information that would prove this to be true is being covered up.

Besides the fact that you really couldn’t cover up something, the stories that are told by ancient peoples you really can’t take at face value and say that it’s entirely true.

Ancient alien theorists tend take myths way to literally, and that ancient humans were basically trying to best make sense of what they saw, and in a sense, this is true. The problem is that ancient alien theorist believe that these myths are maybe only two or three hundred years older then when they were first written down. In  reality these myths are probably several thousands of years older then when they were first written down. The simple matter of fact is that we have no idea just how old these myths really are. Even if those myths were only a couple of hundred years old before they were written down, it still doesn’t mean that the details didn’t get messed up along the way.

Keep Reading: The Soap Box: ECT Follow up: Ancient Aliens Cover-up: How Myths are Created.
See Also: Embarrassing Conspiracy Theories: Ancient Aliens Cover-up

Ancient Aliens DebunkedAncient Aliens Debunked

25 Greatest Scientific Hoaxes In History

Although we like to think of scientific inquiry as being completely objective, unfortunately there have been times in the past that it has been biased by our human desires. Whether it is for fame, fortune, or simply to mislead, some people will occasionally go to great lengths to deceive the world. You’ll probably notice, however, that not all of these are malicious cases of deception. Some are in fact quite amusing and meant to be little more than practical jokes. Either way though, these are the 25 greatest scientific hoaxes in history.

25 Greatest Scientific Hoaxes In History – YouTube.

Beastly Madness

For those who believe in the existence of literal werewolves, the image of the hairy shape-shifting beast that is part-human and part-wolf, and that embarks on a marauding killing spree at the sight of a full moon, is no joke.

But if such creatures really exist, are they true werewolves of the type that have been so successfully portrayed on-screen time and again by Hollywood movie-moguls? Could they be deranged souls, afflicted by a variety of mental illnesses and delusions? Or might they have distinctly paranormal origins? Paradoxically, the answer to all three of those questions might very well be: “Yes.”

… I fully believe in the existence of a phenomenon that is responsible for reports of werewolves. But, I do not for one minute believe that people are morphing into savage animals by the light of a full moon.

Keep Reading: Beastly Madness | Mysterious Universe.

The Yoga Of Time Travel: How The Mind Can Defeat Time

Holy cow. Talk about the weird and wacky way people think and believe …

Red Lipstick & Caviar

By now most of you all know I’m in to what other people would consider “bizarre”. I collect books that fulfill the explorer and inner investigator in me. After purchasing several books off Amazon I – obviously – read them all, but one book in particular stood out the most to me; a book by Dr. Fred Alan Wolf called ” The Yoga of Time Travel: How The Mind Can Defeat Time”. Sounds eccentric, right? Time travel?! Well, its books like these that give a whole new perspective on life and the power of your mind. Before I go on about the book here is a little background on the author:

Fred Alan Wolf (born December 3, 1934) is an American theoretical physicist specializing in quantum physics and the relationship between physics and consciousness. He is a former physics professor at San Diego State University, and has helped…

View original post 3,244 more words

Randi $1,000,000 paranormal challenge

James Randi, a.k.a. The Amazing Randi, magician and author of numerous works skeptical of paranormal, supernatural, and pseudoscientific claims has for about ten years offered “a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power.” His rules were little more than what any reasonable scientist would require. If you are a mental spoon bender, you couldn’t use your own spoons. If you claimed to see auras, you’d have to do so under controlled conditions. If you claimed to be able to do remote viewing, you wouldn’t be given credit for coming close in some vague way. If you were going to demonstrate dowsing powers, you would have to be prepared to be tested under controlled conditions. If you were going to do psychic surgery or experience the stigmata, you would have to do so with cameras watching your every move.

Continue: Randi $1,000,000 paranormal challenge – The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com.

Here is a video clip of Randi exposing Geller and Popoff from NOVA’s “Secrets of the Psychics”:

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