Fourth Floor Studio

January 22, 2007


Filed under: skepticism — chris @ 10:29 pm

One of the things that generally bugs me is superstition. Every culture is rife with them, and the greeks are no exception. Salt shouldn’t be passed from hand to hand at the table; bread should be the right way up; exit a house the same way you entered. Other, more subtle ideas permeate everyday life, even in a lab.

So why do we indulge in wishful thinking? Is it sloppy logic, intellectual laziness, or an organised religion conspiracy to control the masses? I prefer to think something more genial: we all want to think that there’s order in the universe; that there is some way we can influence events, above and beyond our normal input and effort. After all, we all want something…



  1. Have you read “The God Delusion” yet? I thought it might be a bit dull as I’m in 100% agreement with everything in the book. But there are some very interesting speculations on possible evolutionary advantages to things like superstitious or irrational thinking, blind faith and so on.

    Comment by nsaunders — January 25, 2007 @ 1:41 am

  2. I’m about half way through. It’s rather polemical, or should I say unapologetic. Dan Dennett took a different approach in “Breaking the Spell”, trying to initiate a dialogue with a notional fundie reader. Worth reading, however.

    I’ve also got a copy of Francis Collins’ book, which I suppose I should read – even though I suspect I’ll give up in disgust.

    For a completely different spin, try Joan Didion’s “The year of Magical Thinking”, where she describes how she dealt with her husband’s sudden death, including all the little instinctive superstitions she took on unconsciously. A. gave it to me a few days ago, and it looks most intriguing.

    There’s a more subtle thread of this type of thinking in Borges’ later works, too, which is worth reading.

    Comment by chris — January 25, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

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