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Source: (consider it) Thread: Superstition - does it cross your path?
Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
Throwing salt over the shoulder to bring good fortune works?

As you say, someone with OCD may well link two things together, and it is very hard to prove otherwise.

quote:
The dog does the behaviour and gets the reward. That's most certainly not how superstition works. The rewards are amorphous at best.
Mmm. That's a very interesting point. Dogs are particularly adept at understanding their position within a hierarchy and working out what they need to do to gain a reward.

Sort of. But the hierarchy is unimportant to them, only the source of reward - usually food.

But superstition has no part unless manipulated by the trainer. And - even then - it's not superstition as the rewards for the behaviour are real and immediate.

Of course, with humans, the reward would be a lack of discomfort/fear/anxiety etc. This 'caused' by the superstitious behaviour. But where do you draw the line?

If it's taking up oddles of your time or doing one harm then it's time to seek treatment imo.

[ 27. February 2017, 13:12: Message edited by: Boogie ]

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseTastic:
Something of a tangent but I have always found B.F. Skinner's
"'Superstition' In The Pigeon" interesting.

Food was delivered to the pigeon by a hopper. Whatever the pigeon happened to be doing at this time, it tended to repeat. Skinner proposes that the bird thinks its behaviour is causing the food drop. (Although, because of his behaviourist philosophy, he doesn't like to talk about the bird thinking, only about conditioned behavioural responses).

Interesting point, which seems to demonstrate arbitrariness, although it would be odd to say that animals are superstitious.

It reminds me of 'In Gods We Trust' (Scott Atran), in which he argues that humans need beliefs which are costly and anomalous.

Wow, this is a big topic. I get the costliness, since this can lead towards ego-annihilation, which humans value.

Also reminds me of Freud, who argued that some humans need to suffer, another massive topic. So you could argue that doing something non-rational scores heavily on various counts.

Just off to play ping-pong.

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Martin60
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It crosses my mind.

One morning last week I was hopelessly talking to God about wanting a personal, private miracle, as you do, as I know He doesn't do public ones since the first embrace or two from Jesus ... and I know He doesn't do private ones either.

In the middle of that my wife, who has gone through career threatening hell since the New Year, texted me to say that in the midst of flight panic inducing chaos at work, she suddenly felt completely calm.

We discussed it during yesterday's walkies and my take, on a blustery day, was that on the very edge of turbulence in all systems are oases of calm. Celestial Lagrangian points and the like. And that these are in God's provision in all turbulent systems, whether orbital, weather, streams, mental. That didn't work for her of course! She had spoken a couple of weeks ago of intuition being God's reply. Literally. By the Spirit. I vacillate over the shallowest end of that in myself whilst utterly endorsing it for her. The calm she experienced she put down to the Spirit. I endorse that too of course. I don't have anything better for her.

And then a strange shiver of cognitive dissonance rippled through me: what if she's right and it happens all the time but we just don't notice?! It's enough to turn one in to a full on charismatic!

Not. I'm just not wired for that now, having gone through it.

In Christ is yes. The positive. In its most minimal form I'm reduced to taking Pascal's wager on waking up and at other times in the day when faith flags in the face of the sufficiency of meaningless existence.

I'd LIKE to add superstition to the mix! But that would lead to an immunological rejection. I'd like to put any answer to prayer down to divine intervention and not to divine provision.

But that would be ... superstitious. If I started down that road, where would I end? So don't start.

I wish I could.

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
It crosses my mind.

...

I'd like to put any answer to prayer down to divine intervention and not to divine provision.

But that would be ... superstitious.

That whole post was brilliant and this bit sums up the whole subject for me.

God provides.

All the other stuff imo - including salt throwing, black cats, religion, you name it - is superfluous and pointless but sometimes/often comforting. Other times harmful as in time wasting or addictions and OCD.

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quetzalcoatl
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Although placebo may be a factor. For example, if a footballer puts his socks on inside out before every game, this may actually relax him, and put him in a good frame of mind to play.

So some kinds of rituals may actually work in a psychological way to enhance performance, or make someone feel relaxed, and so on.

You could cite some religious rituals here, and here there is the added bonus often of a group with whom you share the ritual. This is Atran's point as well, if we all do something counter-intuitive, we may feel more together as a group.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Is there a difference, then, between superstition and magical thinking?

Not really. "Superstition" and "magical thinking" are just synonyms for belief in things we don't believe in - aren't they?
You then need to add religion in as well. The pejorative use is meaningless as anything other than an insult, to feel superior or to hide that one's own beliefs are on no firmer ground.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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SusanDoris

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
Okay, I accept that, but could you elaborate a bit, please There is a you tube clip of Richard Feynmann where he
summarises the method.

I'm not sure what you want me to say. In order to understand observations, scientists have to use their brains. And brains are, by definition, subject to perception issues. A scientist can try to be objective, but this might not be possible. There has been a lot of work on perception and the inability of even trained individuals to overcome inaccuracies - see work of Lotto and others.
I agree, but that is the whole point of the scientific method, isn’t it? If experiments are done and results are published, they must beopen to review and challenge if they are to be accepted. Even if all other scientists agree, it is still not declared to be 100% proved. Results that are claimed by one individual to be valid could be dismissed.
quote:
Note - these experiments are very often visual, so you (Susan) might find them hard to understand. But I absolutely believe the systematic biases found in visual experimentation are also present in other ways in things we have not measured. The idea that a scientist can be human and can at the same time be completely objective is a busted idea.
Yes, I agree, but much effort is made to be objective, I think and, as I have just said, why a one person claim can be dismissed. It may well turn out to be right later, but on the say-so of one person, it has to do much more to convince others in that particular field.
quote:
quote:
Can you think of an example of this? Just running through my day so far in my mind, I cannot think of anything that has been influenced by superstition.
I don't know you, so no. But it isn't possible to move through life without some sort of superstition - if that is defined as a belief in something which is not logical and/or unproven.
I cannot think of anything I believe for which the bottom line answer is a superstition. I cannot think of anything, for which the present answer is a don’t know, that will, either sooner or later, be found to be a superstition – and that in itself makes no sense, does it? [Smile] Because if a non-superstitious, non-supernatural answer is found, then it becomes knowledge and part of the natural world.

thank you for much to think about.

[ 27. February 2017, 17:25: Message edited by: SusanDoris ]

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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SusanDoris

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Martin60

Very interesting post. My thoughts are: Your wife gives the credit for her calmness to a spirit source, but in my opinion all credit is due to the evolved human brain. That opinion is not a comforting one to many people, I know, although for me it is the best answer. What do you think?

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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Martin60
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I rationally agree SusanDoris. But there again, I'm not solely rational.

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SusanDoris

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Martin60
Thank you for reply.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
I agree, but that is the whole point of the scientific method, isn’t it? If experiments are done and results are published, they must beopen to review and challenge if they are to be accepted. Even if all other scientists agree, it is still not declared to be 100% proved. Results that are claimed by one individual to be valid could be dismissed.

But it isn't just about an individual - although Lord knows there is an issue within science about reproducibility - it is about all those hidden forms of perception bias that might be present within the predominently male, white, middle-class cohort of scientists that we might know nothing about.

As I've already said, there is a superstition about statistics which goes very wide and deep (largely, I think, due to a lack of statistical education amongst scientists). OK, yes that one is likely to be uncovered by reproducing experiments - but who knows what else is affected by perception and bias?


quote:
Yes, I agree, but much effort is made to be objective, I think and, as I have just said, why a one person claim can be dismissed. It may well turn out to be right later, but on the say-so of one person, it has to do much more to convince others in that particular field.
Yes but it isn't just about one person.

There is a very famous colour experiment, which shows that under certain circumstances almost all people are unable to distinguish between colours. It is a "trick" of shadows. Apparently nobody can see the colours in that circumstance correctly. One can use computer programmes which tell the observer the "correct" colours, but even knowing the truth it is impossible for a human to see them.

And there are many other well known issues about perception.

If these do in fact show a layer of perception bias on top of any individual, societal, social or other bias that a scientist might have - then it is very hard to argue that science is objective. Even if the method is correct, one can't account for bias that one doesn't know is there.

Superstition is another layer again on top of perception bias, but as I've suggested previously, I believe that we are all superstitious on one way or another - including all scientists.


quote:
I cannot think of anything I believe for which the bottom line answer is a superstition. I cannot think of anything, for which the present answer is a don’t know, that will, either sooner or later, be found to be a superstition – and that in itself makes no sense, does it? [Smile] Because if a non-superstitious, non-supernatural answer is found, then it becomes knowledge and part of the natural world.

thank you for much to think about.

There are plenty of things that you believe which are not logical and which are not explained by science. Because that's the nature of being human.

I don't think one has to assign the explanation to a supernatural source for it to be a superstition.

[ 27. February 2017, 18:38: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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lilBuddha
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Perception bias, poor understanding of science,
our brains' hardwired responses that distort accuracy of perception; none of these are superstition by any meaningful definition of the word.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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SusanDoris

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
But it isn't just about an individual - although Lord knows there is an issue within science about reproducibility - it is about all those hidden forms of perception bias that might be present within the predominently male, white, middle-class cohort of scientists that we might know nothing about.
***
There is a very famous colour experiment, which shows that under certain circumstances almost all people are unable to distinguish between colours. It is a "trick" of shadows. Apparently nobody can see the colours in that circumstance correctly. One can use computer programmes which tell the observer the "correct" colours, but even knowing the truth it is impossible for a human to see them.

And there are many other well known issues about perception.

If these do in fact show a layer of perception bias on top of any individual, societal, social or other bias that a scientist might have - then it is very hard to argue that science is objective. Even if the method is correct, one can't account for bias that one doesn't know is there.


Superstition is another layer again on top of perception bias, but as I've suggested previously, I believe that we are all superstitious on one way or another - including all scientists.
***
There are plenty of things that you believe which are not logical and which are not explained by science. Because that's the nature of being human.

Thank you. Re the colour experiment – it seems it is now a known fact – discovered as a result of experiment – that people do not distinguish the colours, so the reason the brain behaves like this will be the next step in that branch of research I suppose.
I wonder whether you can give examples of the various points you have - raised:
Hidden forms of perception bias
- Well known issues about perception
Bias that one doesn’t know is there
-things I believe which are not logical and not explained by science.

I have a fairly ordinary sort of day ahead of me today (go to gym, hair-do later, one or two small purchases to make), so I will pay attention to what I do which might be biased by reasons other than, of course, safety.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Perception bias, poor understanding of science,
our brains' hardwired responses that distort accuracy of perception; none of these are superstition by any meaningful definition of the word.

No, but I was discussing the point that a scientist was necessarily objective and countering it with evidence that it is not possible to be objective and is often impossible to even detect when we're experiencing perception bias.

As I said, I believe that we experience life as a series of overlays. The scientist is trained to think in certain ways and to make experiments and conclusions. That can be biased. He is trained to test his results with statistics. Those are often used in biased ways. He makes conclusions which may be influenced by his background, nationality, gender and other factors - it is surprising how often (or perhaps not very surprising..) women, non-white, homosexual and other scientists come up with different ways to understand things.

On top of those layers of bias and perception, I'm submitting that there exists a whole other layer of - consciously or unconsciously held - superstitions. The fact that we can identify ways that we all experience other biases and issues with perception is indicative that we're inherently not objective and, I think, willing to believe a is caused by b even when there is no logical reason to think that.

To me the fact that placebos work even even when one is aware that it is a placebo is a strong indication that we're hard-wired to look for connections between events.

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Boogie

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mr cheesy - do you agree that superstition is on a continuum with compulsive behaviours?

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
mr cheesy - do you agree that superstition is on a continuum with compulsive behaviours?

Um.. well, yes I suppose I do. Religious people don't like to think that their behaviours are in any sense "compulsive", but it is hard to see (for example) the urge to pray in a particular way at particular times of the day as anything other than that.

I suppose my problem with starting to talk about OCD is that I think everyone basically repeats compulsively behaviours - the only difference is that some have behaviours which are hard to control and threaten quality of life. OCD is only abnormal in the sense that it is the behaviours that everyone has turned up to max.

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arse

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Boogie

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I imagine it tips into OCD when it becomes harmful. But superstition can be harmful in itself if it's tied up with gambling etc and the person thinks they can 'get lucky' one way or another.

I think that, maybe, creating a false certainty for ourselves is better than having no certainty at all. And maybe creating false hope is better than no hope at all too.

My faith has watered down to a vague hope - I don't see it as a false hope, but not far off that tbh!

[ 28. February 2017, 10:10: Message edited by: Boogie ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
I imagine it tips into OCD when it becomes harmful. But superstition can be harmful in itself if it's tied up with gambling etc and the person thinks they can 'get lucky' one way or another.

Absolutely. I was just thinking along similar lines - the point where a behaviour becomes damaging is often hard to see.

quote:
I think that, maybe, creating a false certainty for ourselves is better than having no certainty at all. And maybe creating false hope is better than no hope at all too.
I suppose I think that we all need patterns through which to understand life and that it is those patterns which give meaning rather than the things we say we believe or logical explanations.

In a weird way is it the patterns which give meaning even when they make little sense outwith of their own parameters, and the person who is unable to find a pattern of life which they can repeat is very likely to be unhappy (and may well become depressed, which is another pattern of thought processes).

To me the solution is not to pretend that we're not doing these things, but to consciously choose which pattern is uplifting and which is destructive and to allow our bodies and minds to be accustomed to the useful patterns. That's at least a part of all religious teaching, in my view.

quote:
My faith has watered down to a vague hope - I don't see it as a false hope, but not far off that tbh!
Yes, I can appreciate that. But I also think this is another function of a religious life pattern - having something of a pattern to hold onto when the meaning behind it becomes hard to believe or understand. One can either decide that the lack of meaning makes the pattern pointless (at which point, I'd argue, one is desperately seeking some other pattern to replace it with) or one can keep going with the pattern until such time as it begins to make sense again.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Religious people don't like to think that their behaviours are in any sense "compulsive", but it is hard to see (for example) the urge to pray in a particular way at particular times of the day as anything other than that.

I have the urge to eat breakfast in a particular way at a particular time of the day. That's not compulsive. The time of day is driven by "when I wake up in the morning, I am hungry", and I know how I prefer my breakfast.

Not all routines are compulsive.

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Religious people don't like to think that their behaviours are in any sense "compulsive", but it is hard to see (for example) the urge to pray in a particular way at particular times of the day as anything other than that.

In my experience it's more usually an urge to be distracted from praying at particular times of the day.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I also think this is another function of a religious life pattern - having something of a pattern to hold onto when the meaning behind it becomes hard to believe or understand. One can either decide that the lack of meaning makes the pattern pointless (at which point, I'd argue, one is desperately seeking some other pattern to replace it with) or one can keep going with the pattern until such time as it begins to make sense again.

Yes, and I think 'high' Churches win hands down in this respect (and many other faiths too).

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HCH
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People can invent their own superstitious beliefs based on flawed logic and pass those beliefs on to others. Someone goes to baseball game #1 and sits in seat 234, and his team wins. When he goes to game #2, he sits elsewhere and his team loses. When he goes to game #3, he wants to be in seat 234 again. A superstition is created, based on a
fallacy that (a small amount of) correlation implies causation.

I sometimes think of superstition as a default religion. If children are not taught some other religion and also are not taught logic, they will invent their own religion.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Religious people don't like to think that their behaviours are in any sense "compulsive", but it is hard to see (for example) the urge to pray in a particular way at particular times of the day as anything other than that.

It may be hard for you to see. But you may not be representative in that.

[ 28. February 2017, 17:00: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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Penny S
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I remember an argument with a colleague about the way a child will drop, say, a marble in the same way that they dropped the one that has rolled out of sight. She claimed it was superstition. I claimed it was scientific, and based on an assumption that things were repeatable.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
mr cheesy - do you agree that superstition is on a continuum with compulsive behaviours?

I do not at all agree.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Religious people don't like to think that their behaviours are in any sense "compulsive", but it is hard to see (for example) the urge to pray in a particular way at particular times of the day as anything other than that.

It may be hard for you to see. But you may not be representative in that.
Without a specific example, that would be conditioning more than compulsion.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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L'organist
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My Irish grandmother passed on many of her superstitions to her children, including her firm belief that if a painting falls off the wall, it means a death. My father, being a rational, Mirfield-trained, man, scoffed at this and used to get pretty shirty if our mama mentioned this, and other superstitions to us.

Anyway, one day a painting (rather a good water-colour) fell off the wall and Mama opined "there'll be a death", closely followed by hissed remonstrance from papa. Two days later the person who gave my mama the painting died, aged 46, fit and healthy, no medical explanation.

Papa made no comment but he did arrange for a handyman to come and check all the picture mountings in the house [Snigger]

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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Mention of Ireland has me mention that most Irish of islands, Newfoundland. My wife and I went onto the East Coast Trail a decade or more ago. While walking, we stayed in B&Bs.

One morning in a small outport the CBC was on, and there was a call-in show about fairies and the mischief they get up, souring the milk, giving babies colic, and otherwise disturbing the peace and shit-disturbing a house hold. People were seriously calling in to consult how to get the wicked wee fairies from out under the crib, away from the marital bed (I guess fairies disapprove of pleasure in that venue), and out of the kitchen so bread will rise etc.

We were both sort of charmed and amused by, starting to make light of it, luckily not having gone to far. Our host brought out her books about fairies and started to discuss difficulties created around the B&B and in personal life by these imps. Which I suppose account for why the radio was tuned to the call-in show.

My previous exposure to fairies was to think them granters of wishes and collectors of children's primary teeth. These are apparently fairies gone wrong, just like angels and people.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Gamaliel
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L'Organist ... Mama and Papa? Bloody hell, when were you born? 1910?

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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TurquoiseTastic

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# 8978

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:

My previous exposure to fairies was to think them granters of wishes and collectors of children's primary teeth. These are apparently fairies gone wrong, just like angels and people.

Oooo no no no. It's the fluffy gauzy friendly fairies that are the fairies gone wrong! The original ones are very different.... very different...

I would very much recommend C.S. Lewis on this - "The Discarded Image" is a fantastic read on the mediaeval world-view and includes a whole chapter on fairies - or, as he calls them, "The Longaevi". In this book he is very much wearing his "Professor of Mediaeval Literature" hat, so you may find it interesting even if you don't care for his other work (though I do!)

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mousethief

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As I understand it (which may be all wrong), it's not so much that fairies are immoral, but that their morality is orthogonal to ours. What they do is on their own moral scale which may appear moral to us or may appear immoral to us, whether what they are doing is on their own scale moral or immoral.

I hope I made that clear enough.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Martin60
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# 368

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It is as wisely foolish to infantilize the fae, as it is to appease the Erinyes as the Eumenides or represent the likes of Azrael and Megatron as putti.

Pray he is not at the bottom of your garden.

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Love wins

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Martin60
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# 368

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And I defy anybody but Richard Dawkins, with his unpolarized frontal lobes, to read M R James, en famille, in town, in the daylight, let alone ... not.

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Love wins

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Lamb Chopped
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# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I remember an argument with a colleague about the way a child will drop, say, a marble in the same way that they dropped the one that has rolled out of sight. She claimed it was superstition. I claimed it was scientific, and based on an assumption that things were repeatable.

It's hypothesizing and then testing the hypothesis, IMHO, at least most of the time. If my car is making a weird noise and I accidentally kick the steering wheel column and it stops, I will certainly repeat the action if the noise starts up again, just to see if it goes away again. If it does, I'll go on kicking the column on such occasions for weeks or months, even if some supposed expert tells me the problem is really in the back of the car. Because I don't really care what your theory says, I want something that works, and in my (limited) experience kicking the column does.

You can see how this easily leads to developing new superstitions. Let a coincidence happen twice (once if it's sufficiently striking) and people will wed themselves to the dirty sock or whatever they were wearing when their baseball team won. It's the same impulse we have when doing science, but less rigorously or systematically tested.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
It's hypothesizing and then testing the hypothesis, IMHO, at least most of the time. If my car is making a weird noise and I accidentally kick the steering wheel column and it stops, I will certainly repeat the action if the noise starts up again, just to see if it goes away again. If it does, I'll go on kicking the column on such occasions for weeks or months, even if some supposed expert tells me the problem is really in the back of the car. Because I don't really care what your theory says, I want something that works, and in my (limited) experience kicking the column does.

You can see how this easily leads to developing new superstitions. Let a coincidence happen twice (once if it's sufficiently striking) and people will wed themselves to the dirty sock or whatever they were wearing when their baseball team won. It's the same impulse we have when doing science, but less rigorously or systematically tested.

Yeah, but no. Coincidence is something that must be ruled out in testing a hypothesis, but it is nowhere in the same arena as superstition.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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Maybe the thing with a superstition is that it can't be tested with the kinds of logical tools and methods one might use in other areas of life - perhaps even it is one of those kinds of unspoken assumptions within any group (or mind?) that is too baseline to ever be challenged. And which make no sense to anyone else.

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arse

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Martin60
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# 368

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What is any form of discrimination based on a religious belief but superstition?

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Love wins

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
# 12618

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
What is any form of discrimination based on a religious belief but superstition?

Thinking about that sentence, I am not sure whether discrimination itself can be called a superstition. Could you say a bit more on that, please?

Referring to my previous post, I have paid attention to everything I have thought and done since writing it, and I think I can safely say that there is nothing based on any superstition.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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Martin60
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# 368

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Where superstitious belief leads to discriminatory behaviour, the discrimination is superstitious. And the superstition is discriminatory. Hostile.

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Love wins

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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Question: is there a material difference about taking something on trust that and a superstition?

When I go to the petrol station, I fill the car on one side rather than the other. The reason being that it is easier to reach the petrol cap.

I think this is rational not superstition, although I haven't tried the other way in a long time.

I pick up the green pump to put in unleaded fuel. I trust that it is both unleaded and that the amount on the dial is correct. I haven't checked it personally, but I believe without ever really thinking about it that it will work correctly - on the basis that it always has before.

Superstition? Where is the line?

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arse

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Martin60
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# 368

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The line is very simple.

What you are talking about with petrol pumps is conditioning, non-inferential reasong, experiential learning.

A belief that belief by itself changes external reality is superstition.

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Love wins

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fletcher christian

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# 13919

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Posted by Latchkey Kid:
quote:

I have heard of an Irish priest (hearsay, I know) that said in parts of Ireland superstition was mixed with Catholicism.

Likely more than just hearsay to be honest. This is a hangover from Catholic Emancipation days when the Catholic church and catholic political leaders denounced various things as being backward and redundant; not befitting of a modern Ireland. For instance, for a short period they said that the Irish language was the language of rogues and a backward superstitious people and should be dropped. O'Connell was a great proponent of this notion. This also coincided with a book published at the time, ironically by a deeply bigoted Anglican priest, which proved very popular. In it he pointed to the practice of making rounds (a kind of mini pilgrimage) as profane superstition and the practice of praying at wells as witchcraft. Sadly these ideas took a very deep root and much of the Christian practice was lost to the extent that even today there is a powerfully strong vein of thought that still claims these ancient Christian practices are either entirely pagan or old pagan practices layered over with Christianity. There is now something of a battle between those who want to preserve a unique Christian heritage at holy well sites (they are almost 100% of the time found at monastic or cell sites) and modern druids and wiccans who want to reappropriate them. So it can work the other way and superstition can grow out of Christians' ignorance of their own past that has been rocked by political and cultural shifts. You still get catholic clergy today who will very loudly proclaim that rounds and prayers at holy wells are nothing but a vain superstition without recognising they continue a line from old fashioned protestant bigotry.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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L'organist
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# 17338

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Gamaliel
You ask when I was born: a few years before you BUT we had a very formal upbringing, a Scots nanny and, in the case of my father (hope that causes you less offence), older parents. We certainly would never have dared call them Mum or Dad, and we adopted referring to them in speech as our mama and papa from our parents, who referred to each other as such, for example 'Ask your papa what he thinks.'

And habits formed in childhood have a way of sticking, sometimes passing on to the next generation.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
The line is very simple.

What you are talking about with petrol pumps is conditioning, non-inferential reasong, experiential learning.

OK, but that conditioning isn't actually based on anything substantial, is it? I could have been cheated every time I went to a petrol pump. There could be a conspiracy which means unleaded fuel is nothing of the kind.

I dare say that a fair number of people bought diesel cars on the belief that they were "better for the environment" than petrol cars. If anything, that's a faulty reliance on expert opinion. But I'm not so sure that this is as unlike superstition as you are suggesting.

quote:
A belief that belief by itself changes external reality is superstition.
Right, but I don't think people believe stuff for absolutely no reason at all. Most are believing it because an authority figure told them, because they read about it in a book, because something happened in the past to connect to events together (in a way that most other people would not accept were in any sense connected).

The Roman Catholic Church's
catechism says some interesting things about superstition:

quote:
III. "YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME"

2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

Superstition

2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.

Which seems to reinforce the idea that superstition is just religious belief we don't agree with.

It seems to be one of those irregular verbs:

I'm religious because I believe in the efficacy of prayer
She's superstitious because she believes in fairies
They're in sin because they believe in magic.

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arse

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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The conjugation seems correct to me, since 'superstition' is now pejorative. That is, I label other stuff as superstitious, whereas my own non-rational actions I see as well, just my stuff. Touch wood.

It reminds me of atheists who label religion as superstition and magic, by which they simply intend a negative. Well, some of them do break it down further I suppose, in terms of the non-rational and irrational. But 'superstition' is seen as medieval and obscurantist, I suppose.

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everything must go.

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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I think a useful concept with ideas such as superstition, is Wittgenstein's 'family resemblances'. In other words, rather than finding a single criterion for an idea, we can look at a whole family of overlapping ideas. They are not defined by one theme, but connect with each other in a kind of circle.

Thus, superstition, compulsion, obsessiveness, religion, magic, and so on, could all be connected, but not sharing the same single theme. Working out all the differences and similarities would be a mammoth task, probably.

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everything must go.

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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@L'Organist, no, it didn't cause me offence - I was surprised though ... but I do need to apologise to you as I probably caused you offence with my outburst.

[Hot and Hormonal]

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
# 12618

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Where superstitious belief leads to discriminatory behaviour, the discrimination is superstitious. And the superstition is discriminatory. Hostile.

Thank you; yes, I see what you mean, but somehow the word discrimination has more aggressive connotations than superstitious.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
# 12618

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Question: is there a material difference about taking something on trust that and a superstition?

When I go to the petrol station, I fill the car on one side rather than the other. The reason being that it is easier to reach the petrol cap.

I think this is rational not superstition, although I haven't tried the other way in a long time.

I pick up the green pump to put in unleaded fuel. I trust that it is both unleaded and that the amount on the dial is correct. I haven't checked it personally, but I believe without ever really thinking about it that it will work correctly - on the basis that it always has before.

Superstition? Where is the line?

That is not superstition, nor is it based on superstition, it is practical commonsense based on evidence. If any time the wrong product comes out of the pump, then a really bad mistake has been made by a person ... who will, I expect, pay for the damage done!

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
That is not superstition, nor is it based on superstition, it is practical commonsense based on evidence. If any time the wrong product comes out of the pump, then a really bad mistake has been made by a person ... who will, I expect, pay for the damage done!

How do you know that these things are "practical commonsense" and "based on evidence"? Have you checked with your local council as to whether they've been inspecting the petrol pumps?

You are taking it on trust - on the basis that it hasn't totally ruined your car before. You've got no more idea about exactly what is inside the pump than anyone else.

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arse

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