via The Skeptic s Dictionary – Skepdic.com
“The superstitious man is to the rogue what the slave is to the tyrant.” –Voltaire
A 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).
The 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 . . .
MORE . . .
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.
- Superstitions! (blackinkwhitepaper.wordpress.com)
- Superstitions (athenabrady1.wordpress.com)
- A Few Friday The 13th Myths And Superstitions (mix965houston.cbslocal.com)
Friday the 13th is synonymous with bad luck and superstitions — so much so that some people flat-out refuse to fly, make business deals or get married on this fateful day.
As many as 21 million people in the United States are fearful of Friday the 13th, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., which estimates that $800 million to $900 million is lost in business every Friday the 13th because of fears of the doomed day. [Top 10 Phobias]
But is there really a reason to be so apprehensive of a day that’s technically just like any other? Of course not, scientists say. You can pick out any date on the calendar or any day in history and find some weird stuff that’s happened. For fun, we’ve rounded up 13 events — some tragic, some just plain strange — that happened on a Friday the 13th: 13 Strange Things That Happened on Friday the 13th | LifesLittleMysteries.com.
The number 13 is synonymous with bad luck. It’s considered unlucky to have 13 guests at a dinner party, many buildings don’t have a 13th floor and most people avoid getting married or buying a house on a day marked by this dreaded number. Particularly superstitious folks even avoid driving on Friday the 13th.
But is there any statistical proof to support the notion that Friday the 13th — or even just the number 13 itself — is unlucky?
“No data exists, and will never exist, to confirm that the number 13 is an unlucky number,” said Igor Radun of the Human Factors and Safety Behavior Group at the University of Helsinki’s Institute of Behavioural Sciences in Finland. “There is no reason to believe that any number would be lucky or unlucky.”
Keep Reading: Statistically Speaking, Is Friday the 13th Really Unlucky? | Friday the 13th and Bad Luck | Superstitions | LifesLittleMysteries.com.
People who were primed to feel like they have little control over their lives were more likely to change their individual views and believe in supernatural or paranormal beings, a new study suggests.
Psychologists from the University of Queensland found that when people felt a lack of control in their lives, they were more likely to believe in the so-called “psychic abilities” of the famous Paul the Octopus, an “octopus oracle” that became famous the 2010 soccer World Cup for correctly “predicting” the winner of all games in the competition.
Keep Reading: Loss of Control Makes People Superstitious – Medical Daily.
An ancient Mayan skull stolen from Tibet by Nazis – said to have magical powers to enable humanity to survive the December 2012 apocalypse – has been dropped by a lab assistant in eastern Germany, chipping its chin.
Read more: German drops Mayan skull, endangers mankind – The Local.
What if this skull is key to us surviving the Mayan 2012 end-of-the-world prophecy? Huh? We may all be doomed because of this! Argh!
I’m trying to remain calm and not panic. *sigh*
Related: Oldest Mayan calendar unearthed…
By Natalie Wolchover via LiveScience
Historical records indicate that, worldwide, witch hunts occur more often during cold periods, possibly because people look for scapegoats to blame for crop failures and general economic hardship. Fitting the pattern, scholars argue that cold weather may have spurred the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692.
The theory, first laid out by the economist Emily Oster in her senior thesis at Harvard University eight years ago, holds that the most active era of witchcraft trials in Europe coincided with a 400- year period of lower-than-average temperature known to climatologists as the “little ice age.”Oster, now an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago, showed that as the climate varied from year to year during this cold period, lower temperatures correlated with higher numbers of witchcraft accusations.
Keep Reading: Did Cold Weather Cause the Salem Witch Trials? | Weather Patterns & Witchcraft Accusations | Bizarre News | LiveScience.