Typing With My Lucky Toothbrush At My Side,
This review is from: Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition (Paperback)I've found that my best days have been the ones on which I brushed my teeth. Then again my worst days have occurred after brushing my teeth. Why do I only remember the positive connections? Author Vyse has written an interesting treatise on superstitious people: their types, upbringing, and thinking.
Certain social and occupational groups tend to be particularly superstitious: athletes, sailors, soldiers, gamblers, miners, financial investors, and, surprisingly (to me), college students. Many students dress up or dress down for an exam; bring lucky pens; sit in a certain place; indulge in bizarre rituals like entering the exam room through a window, or not coming to the exam until finding a penny on the ground outside.
Although the author explores much research seeking the answer to the question of who is most likely to be superstitious, many of the results are not highly significant. One reason for the development of superstition is to give a person a feeling of control in situations where events are often beyond control. This is especially associated with depressed or highly anxious individuals, and those who are deficient in critical thinking.
Included is a very important chapter on coincidence, probability, and contiguity. Was an event a coincidence, a supernatural happening or simple proof of the laws of probability? If two events happen in immediate succession was this a coincidence or a case of cause and effect? The author, in conclusion, deplores the fact that critical thinking is not taught in schools. As a result skeptics (like myself) are derided while non-rational beliefs such as New Age thinking are often considered to be the in thing.
The beauty of this book is that it can be informative to those with psychology backgrounds, and to the general reader. It's easy reading, entertaining, and sure to increase your knowledge of superstitious behavior. Highly recommended reading.