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It is Good to be Superstitious

7 lawsI have always thought it was a good idea to be somewhat superstitious. (Not overly but somewhat) And I couldn't really tell you why I fweel that way except that it felt comforting and it worked. It seems that I am not alone.
Matthew Hutson, Author of the book The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane , writes in the New York Times that superstitious thought, or “magical thinking,” even as it misrepresents reality, has its advantages. It offers psychological benefits that logic and science can’t always provide: namely, a sense of control and a sense of meaning.
Here is a short excerpt of his article:

Consider one “law of magic” that people tend to put stock in: the idea that “luck is in your hands,” that you can affect your fate via superstitious rituals like knocking on wood or carrying a lucky charm. We often rely on such rituals when we are anxious or want to perform well, and though they may not directly have their intended magical effects, these rituals produce an illusion of control and enhance self-confidence, which in turn can improve our performance and thus indirectly affect our fate.

Here is a great example - At the University of Cologne, subjects were handed a golf ball, and half of them were told that the ball had been lucky so far. Those subjects with a "lucky" ball drained 35 percent more golf putts than those with a “regular” ball.

There is the belief that certain objects can carry the “essences” of previous owners (which explains why you might want to own a pen once used by a favorite writer); the belief that symbolic objects can summon what they represent (which explains why you’re scared to cut up a photograph of your mother); and the attribution of consciousness to inanimate objects (which explains why you yell at the laptop that deleted your files). In various ways they all emerge from basic habits of mind, and they all add structure and meaning to a chaotic and absurd universe.

So to believe in magic — as, on some deep level, we all do — does not make you stupid, ignorant or crazy. It makes you human.


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