Lucky numbers. Magic rituals. Wade Boggs's obsessive eccentricities before each game. Astrology and the White House. Modern buildings that eliminate the "13th" floor. The lure of The X-Files and Stephen King. Although we live in a Lucky numbers. Magic rituals. Wade Boggs's obsessive eccentricities before each game. Astrology and the White House. Modern buildings that eliminate the "13th" floor. The lure of The X-Files and Stephen King. Although we live in a technologically advanced society, superstition is as widespead as it has ever been. Far from limited to athletes and actors, superstitious beliefs are common among people of all occupations and every educational and income level. Why is superstitious behavior so prevalent? How is this behavior established and maintained? Is there a superstitious personality? How do otherwise rational people come to put their faith in such ephemera?
These are the provocative questions that Stuart Vyse addresses in Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. Superstitions, he writes, are the natural result of several well-understood psychological processes, including our human sensitivity to coincidence, a penchant for developing rituals to fill time (to battle nerves, impatience, or both), a fear of failure, our efforts to cope with uncertainty, the need for control, and more. Vyse examines current behavioral research to demonstrate how complex and paradoxical human behavior can be understood through scientific investigation, while he addresses the personality features associated with superstition and the roles of superstitious beliefs in actions. Along the way, we meet a number of colorful characters, researchers, and scientists, including Russian pianist Shura Cherkassky, who always steps onto stage with his right foot first; Peter and Iona Opie, who first collected the lore and language of children, including many juvenile superstitions ("step on a crack, break your mother's back"), and a patient plagued by irrational thoughts to the point of mental illness (he believed Pepperidge Farms products could cause earthquakes, since an earthquake had occurred one Thanksgiving, shortly after he'd eaten a Pepperidge Farms turnover).
Although superstition is a normal part of human culture, Vyse argues that we must provide alternative methods of coping with life's uncertainties by teaching decision analysis, promoting science education, and challenging ourselves to critically evaluate the sources of our beliefs. Written in a style that is both entertaining and authoritative, Believing in Magic shows how an empowering acceptance of rational thinking--and a critical reassessment of the paranormal-- can lead to a richer life. ...Continua Nascondi