Saturday, June 12, 2010

Believing in Magic:The Psychology of Superstition

Believing in Magic is a good read on superstitions and why people believe in them. This book has an introduction to some Psychology content. Stuart A Vyse describes baseball players and their superstitions to start off the first chapter. Also described are what types of superstitions different people believe across cultures, how they learned these beliefs, the maintenance of superstition, mental disorders that can justify superstitions, and what all people can do to teach critical and irrational thinking to change such beliefs. Personal superstitions are lucky clothes, hats, numbers, colors, objects, and routines.

This book goes on to describe superstitions in sports, college students, gamblers, politics, and so many other highly intelligent people who think quite irrationally. ESP and ghosts, which are prevalent in our class discussions, are also found in this book. Vyse lets his reader know that coincidence is psychologically powerful. Coincidence can be seen by many as magical but he assures you that occurrences in life are merely random.

My favorite part of the book is when Vyse told a story when Senator Pell, the creator of the Pell Grants program, invited Uri Geller to Washington to promote human potential research. Senator Pell had Uri demonstrate his "powers" for the congressional representatives. We learned in class Uri Geller is a fraud in chapter three. Senator Pell's superstitions went on when he wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney with concerns that the word "Simone" was heard when speeches were played backwards. Apparently this word could be a code word that could possibly be not good for national interest. We learned about subliminal tapes in chapter five. Senator Pell is a intelligent man but with irrational thoughts.

According to Believing in Magic, things that we can do about superstition is to promote science education, teach children rational decisions before they become irrational thinking adults, improve the public image of scientists, and above all spread critical thinking. If it can not be proved or disproved then there is no science to it. In other words it is Pseudoscience.

Here are just a few examples of superstitions that baseball players have.

No comments:

Post a Comment