Explaining Away the Superstitions

QualiaSoup has once again released one of his masterful videos:

Superstition is an impulse that exists within all of us, with its base in our evolutionary origin. We have to recognize this tendency in ourselves in order to fight it. Religion and homeopathy, mediums and astrology — they all have the same origin in a broken way of thinking.

About Claudia

I'm a lifelong atheist and a molecular biologist with a passion for science and a passionate opposition to its enemies.

  • A3Kr0n

    After seeing the pigeons I’ll see religious people in a whole new, and rather amusing light.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The woman looking for a parking space is driving on the wrong side of the car!

    The Ouija board spells out “I am fooling myself.”

    • Lagerbaer

      Wrong side of the car? Have you not noticed QualiaSoups’ British accent?

      • Sids1188

        Britain is just a myth. America is the only country in the world. Or so I hear.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          And even if Britain did exist, what’s so Great about it?

  • Rain

    Bad Catholic provides for us a prime example of superstition:

    But to the Catholic, the conclave is not just a reportable event. It is that event which ensures the continued existence of the universe, and Eternity’s continued love for us fickle, finite creatures.

    The universe continues to exist, therefore the conclave must have dunnit. Of course he (being a Catholic) wouldn’t say it’s superstition unless it was someone else’s superstition. Or if it was someone else’s superstition he might say the devil did it so he could avoid saying “superstition” at all. There is a long Catholic tradition of saying the devil did somebody else’s superstition.

  • http://oddboyout.blogspot.com/ oddboyout

    My dog’s superstitious ritual is to jump into the pool to summon us home.

  • Stonyground

    Another source of superstition is that of amazing coincidences. They seem amazing because people fail to take into account the hundreds of millions of potential coincidences that don’t happen. Today at the Cheltenham horse racing festival, a horse that was several lengths clear and looked certain to win was spooked by something and shied to one side, throwing its rider. The name of the horse that won as a result was called Divine Intervention.
    Great Britain was originally so called because there was a little Britain in Northern France, now called Brittany. Britain then had an industrial revolution before it occurred to anyone else to have one, became an extremely wealthy nation and built an empire that was the biggest ever. Nowadays colonialism has been recognised as being not very nice, so we tend to feel a bit guilty about the whole empire thing. Nowadays we console ourselves by pointing out that we invented about half of everything that has ever been invented, TV, railways, fordism etc.

    • Nik

      Good point. In the US, there are numerous towns named after famous cities around the world by the town founders who hoped the name would guarantee similar success to that if the famed city.

      For example, there are towns or cities in at least 30 of the 50 states named “Manchester”. Many of these towns were named after Manchester England in hopes that they would attain the industrial success of their namesake.

      Two Manchesters in the US are relatively well known:

      Manchester New Hampshire, the largest city in that state, and Manchester Tennessee, the site of the annual Bonnaroo Music and arts festival.

      I don’t think any on the US towns named Manchester have industrial success of their namesake.

  • Nik

    The “Placebo Effect”, often associated with hypochondria and other psychosomatic disorders, can actually heal in a few cases.

    Consider this:

    Stress, an emotional state, has a well known association with the immune system. Stress causes the body to release numerous hormones, including many that directly suppress the immune system. A positive attitude can relieve stress, and in some cases, the reduction of stress related hormones increases the ability of the immune system to cope with the pathology causing the illness.


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