الأربعاء، 26 مارس، 2014

Superstitions



«  Friday the 13th »
For a superstition, the anxiety of  Friday the 13th seems openly fresh, dating back to the late 1800s. Friday has long been considered an unlucky day (according to Christian tradition, Jesus died on a Friday), and 13 has an extended history as an unlucky number.
According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina, about 17 million people fear Friday the 13th. Many may fall prey to the human mind's desire to associate thoughts and symbols with events.
"If anything bad happens to you on Friday the 13th, the two will be forever associated in your mind," said Thomas Gilovich, a psychologist at Cornell University. "All those uneventful days in which the 13th fell on a Friday will be ignored."
«  Careful with that mirror »
According to folklore, breaking a mirror is a surefire way to condemnation yourself to seven years of imperfect luck. The belief seems to proceed from the reliance that mirrors don't just reflect your image; they hold bits of your soul. That belief led people in the ancient days of the American South to cover mirrors in a house when someone died, lest their soul be trapped inside.
        
Ø Halloween Superstitions
Halloween is a time when common superstitions, folklore, myths and omens seem to carry more weight, due to a thinning of the wall between the physical and supernatural worlds. Below are some common Halloween superstitions.  

Bats:   If you see bats flying around your house on Halloween - inside or out- it is a sign of ghosts and spirits nearby.
Candle snuffing:   If a candle lighted as part of a ceremony blows out, it is a sign that evil spirits are nearby.
Cemeteries:   If you hold your breath while you drive by a cemetery, evil spirits can't enter your body.  When passing a graveyard or a house where someone has died, turn your pockets inside out to make sure you don't bring home ghost in your pocket.  There is an old superstition that says the body which is put in the first grave dug in a new graveyard is always claimed by the devil.
Coffins:  It is said that anyone who lies in a coffin, even for fun, is inviting death, and that no item of clothing belonging to a living person should ever be placed on a corpse when it is placed in a coffin, for as it rots in the grave so will the rightful owner decline towards death.

Crossroads:
  If you go to a crossroads at Halloween and listen to the wind, you will learn all the most important things that will befall you during the next twelve months.
Footsteps:  If you hear foot steps behind you on this night, don't look back. It may be the dead following you. Turning back could mean that you will soon join the dead.
Ghosts:  If you see a ghost, walk around it nine times, and it will disappear.
Halloween birthdays:  Children born on Halloween are said to have the gift of second sight, which includes the power to ward off evil spirits.
Jack O Lanterns:   A burning candle inside a jack-o-lantern on Halloween keeps evil spirits and demons at bay.
Owls:  Many people used to believe that owls swooped down to eat the souls of the dying. If they heard an owl hooting, they would become frightened. A common remedy was thought to be turning your pockets inside out and you would be safe.
Spiders: If you see a spider on Halloween night, it means that the spirit of a dead loved one is watching over you.
Tolling bells:   It is said that if you ring bells on Halloween, it will chase away evil spirits.
Warding off Spirits:  You should walk around your home three times backwards and counterclockwise before sunset on Halloween to ward off evil spirits.
Wind:  On Halloween Night, it is believed that those people who are destined to die within a year will hear a sigh that is carried by the wind which blows over the feet of the dead.
Witches:  Put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards on Halloween night to meet a witch.
3-Superstition and Coincidence in the US
On Rome News-Tribune newspaper ,there was an article writen by Sara Brennan on Tuesday Avril  9,2002 including a big and bad event occured in the US which confused  sara brennan and made her sink into the analysis of that event from the percpective of superstition and coincidence .The event is the attack of  11 septembre , there was a big question is it a superstition or was it planned ? the question burning on everyone’s mind . so, many things involving the attacks have added up to the number 11 that is must be more than just a coincidence. For example this simplest one is that the attack and high-jackings happened on sept,11, but they get much more complicated . septembre 11 is the 245 day of the year  and 2+4+5 =11, on flight 11 there were 92 people and 9+2=11 . Also there were 65 people on flight 77 and 6+5=11, not to mention  that the two towers standing together looks like the number 11.
Many of the people and things involved in Tuesday’s attack have names that added up to 11, Newyork city and Afghanistan both added up to 11, « Trade center » and « the  pentagon » each have 11 letters in their names, George W.Bush, Colin Powell and Ramzi Yousef  the leader in the 1993 attack on the towers all have 11 letters in their names also. So, the number 11 seemed as an unlucky number which was present in an unbelieveble way in the attack of 11 septembre the views are deffirent some of people consider it as a coincidence and others as a superstition.
Brabara  Wallace daughter of  Mr and Mrs Gilbert Wallace of 1026 Emerson avenue cares so little for superstition that she is celebrating her thirteenth birthday on the day of Friday the thirteenth with 13candles on her birthday cake, she smashed a mirrror while standing under an opened  umbrella in her home stating : «  we are not superstitious, poslively not, we do not believe in good luck, good or bad, or in Friday the thirteenth it is just a coincidence that we managed to fall over a chair while groping for the light switch this morning » , «  we are not superstitious absolutely not we have no faith in rabbit feet , lucky charmson four-leaf clovers it is just a coincidence that the closet door was opened and knocked us silly this morning », «  we are not superstitious of course not we have no compunction in spilling salt, opening an umbrella in the house , walking around with black cat , it is just a coincidence that we ran out of gasoline while driving to work this morning ». finishing by saying «  we are not superstitious ,naturally not, but about one more coincidence we will believe we are haunted ». this article was written by Jim Hoagland , published by The Dessert News in Salt lake city Ultah,on  Friday March,13, 1942.
Superstion in education
According To Stuart Vyse  As someone who regularly teaches the psychology student’s most feared course, psychological statistics (known widely as “sadistics”), he is  keenly aware of the anxiety that examinations can bring. In the hours before an exam, particularly the first exam of the semester, he receive more calls from students than at any other time of the year. A diverse array of maladies of varying degrees of credibility emerge just in time to forestall the dreaded event. Personal, family, and cohort emergencies suddenly appear, and he is forced to listen to stories he would rather not hear. Both vomiting and crying are not unusual before, during, or after an exam, and in one case a student had an epileptic seizure.
 According to the statistics in  his book «  believing in magic the psychology of superstition » College students are not famous for their superstitions. In fact, conventional wisdom suggests that the highly educated should be more skeptical than their less learned peers. Yet superstition is frequently associated with fear of failure, and when it comes to examinations, many college students are genuinely fearful. In a fascinating investigation of exam-related superstitions..
As part of a larger study of college life, sociologists Daniel and Cheryl Albas gathered data over 13 years from more than 300 students at the University of Manitoba. Students filled out standardized questionnaires and recorded descriptions of relevant thoughts, sentiments, and behavior in examination logs. In addition, the investigators observed students in a number of locations, on and off campus, and conducted many formal and informal interviews. Based on this information, the Albases estimated that from 20 to 33 percent of their students used magic, primarily to bring on good luck rather than to stave off bad. They discovered that student’s exam-related superstitions fell into two broad categories: the use of magical objects and the practice of special rituals. The Albases enumerated too many examples to present here, but a selection of beliefs and behaviors will help to give us a flavor of this subculture.
One of the most popular student superstitions involved clothing, and, with some exceptions, the predominant practice was "dressing down." Old sweatshirts were quite popular. One science student always wore an old scarf that he claimed "carries parts of my brain in it." Some students dressed up, however, and a young man who always wore a three-piece suit admitted, "It’s not a very logical thing to wear to an exam because it’s hot and restricting." Yet he maintained the belief that his suit improved his performance.
Several students reported that they used special pens with which they had written previous successful exams. Such pens were thought to improve performance; having to take an exam without one’s special pen would be cause for concern. An advertisement in a student newspaper read as follows:
Help! I've lost my silver Cross pen. Deep psychological and sentimental value; never written an exam without it. Lost last Friday. If found contact Anna …
Typically, textbooks cannot be used during an exam. At the University of Manitoba, students stacked books around the perimeter of the examination room or under their desks. Nevertheless, several students reported that being able to see their books during an exam improved their performance: "summaries come up through the covers."
Some students used more common talismans, such as rabbit’s feet, dice, and coins, as well as teddy bears and other cuddly toys. In this category the Albases reported one particularly unusual case. A young male student would not take an exam unless he had "found" a coin, which he interpreted as a sign of good luck. As a result, he would search for a coin on the day of an exam, often wasting precious study time "scrounging around bus stops" until he was successful—even at the risk of being late to the exam.
Of the individual-centered superstitious or magical acts aimed at bringing good luck, the overwhelming favorite was prayer. The Albases reported that even some nonreligious students prayed prior to exams. However, some observed secular rituals. For example, students reported knocking on the exam room door three times before entering, stepping over the threshold of the exam room with their right foot, or circling the exam building—regardless of the weather conditions. Another popular practice was listening to a "lucky song" or tape. One student said she played the song "Money Changes Everything" on the drive to school; another listened to Martin Luther King’s "I have a dream" speech before every exam.
It is clear that this kind of behavior is not unique to Manitoba. I have observed similar superstitions among my own students, and at Harvard University, where students are presumably very intelligent, rubbing the foot of the statue of John Harvard is considered good luck.
Superstition in Sport
Sport is an integral part of popular culture. A country's great sports help shape its heritage and sense of national identity. In the United States, some believe that baseball is the premier American sport. Many writers, including several of our finest novelists, have described the game with religious reverence. Others contend that football or basketball is the true American sport. But most would agree that sport is truly American.
The popularity of sport combined with the fact that its participants are a traditionally superstitious group make athletes, particularly professional athletes, the most famous of all superstitious people. Journalists have delighted in revealing the curious habits of the heroes of the playing field. Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly forced himself to vomit before every game, a habit he had practiced since high school. NBA star Chuck Persons used to eat two candy bars before every game: two KitKats, two Snickers, or one of each. Former New York Mets pitcher Turk Wendell, named the most superstitious athlete of all time byMen’s Fitness magazine, would brush his teeth between innings. Wayne (The Great One) Gretzky, former star of the New York Rangers hockey team, always tucked the right side of his jersey behind his hip pads.
Uncertainty is an integral part of most sports. In basketball, the best professional players make only half their shots from the field. Quarterbacks in the National Football League complete, on average, only 61 percent of their passes. Because the motivation to win or perform well is quite strong, it is not surprising that athletes resort to magic in an attempt to alter these percentages. Interestingly, superstitions within a particular sport are generally restricted to the least-certain activities. George Gmelch, an anthropologist and former professional baseball player, noted that the most capricious parts of the game are batting and pitching. Because winning depends on scoring more runs than the opposing team, a pitcher can perform very well and yet lose the game, or can give up several runs and win. A great pitch can be hit out of the park, and a bad one can become a crucial third strike. In batting, a 30 percent success rate makes one a “premier player,” whereas 26 percent is only average. In contrast, fielding is a more reliable enterprise. Infielders have approximately three seconds to prepare for a ball hit toward them, and outfielders have even more time. Few things can intervene to alter the ball’s trajectory from bat to glove. As a result, when the ball is hit toward a fielder, the player successfully catches it or throws the batter out an average of 97 percent of the time. In the “safer waters” of the playing field, there is little need for magic.
Most superstitious beliefs in sport involve either personal superstitions aimed at improving individual performance or group superstitions directed toward team success.
Although many of the magical beliefs held by athletes are purely individual, the world of sport is also famous for its group or team superstitions. In baseball, it is widely believed that, if a pitcher has held the opposing team hitless, it is bad luck to mention the "no-hitter" in the dugout during the game. Some say the best way to avoid "jinxing" the pitcher is to stay away from him altogether and keep quiet. The Connecticut College women’s basketball team has a group practice that is believed to bring good luck: when they join hands before the start of a game, the players break out of the huddle with a shout of "Together!" This cheer is never used at the beginning of the second half or at any other point in a game, and new players must be educated in its use when they join the team.
Finally, Gregory and Petrie discovered a unique aspect of superstition in the game of hockey. Most superstitious beliefs in sport involve either personal superstitions aimed at improving individual performance or group superstitions directed toward team success. All players participate equally and no one is singled out—except in hockey. Success in ice hockey is highly dependent on the performance of a single player: the goalie. The hockey goalie’s sole function is to minimize the opposing team’s score by stopping or deflecting every shot the opposing team makes into the goal. It is a very difficult position to play, and a talented goalie is a highly valued member of the team. Not surprisingly, Gregory and Petrie found that a great number of hockey superstitions involved the goalie. For example, players often believe it is important to let the goalie go out on the ice first, and many players slap the goalie’s pads for luck. Like the no-hitter in baseball, team members avoid mentioning a shutout to the goalie before the end of the game.
Superstition andGamblers
Most games of chance are just that. Their outcomes are random events, completely out of the player’s control. The lottery player cannot will a "lucky number" to come up; the roulette player has no power over the spinning ball. Nevertheless, many gamblers act as though they were playing games of skill. In some games, such as blackjack and draw poker, the player uses a strategy to decide when it is best to draw a card and when it is not. Furthermore, by understanding the odds, one can become a skillful bettor. But most gambling games do not involve skill.
 Historically, many gamblers have put faith in "luck" and the belief that chance events are, to some extent, under their control. In 1711, The Spectator published accounts of the "lucky numbers" used by British lottery players. One individual played the number 1711 because it was the current year; another played 134 because it was the minority vote on an important bill in the House of Commons. Today similar beliefs are found in various "systems"—some published in popular books—for winning the lottery or betting on horse races, as well as in many personal and social superstitions of the gambling subculture.
Each of these groups confronts a situation in which a particular outcome is both uncertain and highly valued, and each appears to have made superstition an integral part of its activities.
There have been several studies of magical belief among modern gamblers, including investigations of bingo, poker, and roulette players, but the most revealing of these is a study of craps players published by sociologist James Henslin in 1967. (Craps is a wagering game played with dice.) Like Malinowski, Henslin used the method of participant observation, spending as much time as possible with a group of St. Louis cab drivers, both on and off duty. He soon discovered that the drivers frequently played craps in the early-morning hours between shifts.
Craps is a game of pure chance. There is no skill involved in throwing dice. The movements of the clicking, tumbling cubes conform only to the laws of physics and probability, and as long as the dice are not weighted or rigged, every throw is a random event. Nevertheless, Henslin found that these taxi-drivers-turned-crapshooters employed a number of strategies that they believed increased their chances of winning.
Typically the shooter hopes to roll a particular number—a 7 or 11 on the first roll, one’s point on subsequent rolls. The most popular theory of dice-throwing holds that the number rolled is positively correlated with the velocity of the throw. A soft touch brings a low number; a hard throw brings a high one. Other methods of “controlling” the dice include taking one’s time between rolls and “talking to the dice.” This last strategy is often employed at the moment the dice are released, when one shouts out the desired number.
Another common method of controlling the dice is to snap one’s fingers. Shooters often snap their fingers as the dice are thrown or as they bounce off the backboard. (Typically the dice are thrown on a flat surface, and the shooter is required to roll them in such a way that they bounce against a wall or some other backboard.) Henslin found that some of the drivers were extremely ritualistic in their finger-snapping and that, when a die would spin before falling to rest, a special form of the finger-snapping ritual often emerged:
It sometimes happens that, after the dice are cast, one will spin like a top on one of its corners. When this happens, the shooter will frequently point with his index finger close to the die, wait until the die has slowed down, and, just as it begins to fall to rest from the spin, loudly snap his finger against his thumb in an effort to control the resultant point.
Finally, Henslin’s cab drivers espoused the belief that successful shooting required confidence. As a result, they frequently expressed great certainty about their ability to roll the points they wanted. For example, as they rolled the dice, players would often say, "There’s a seven!" Once established, confidence had to be maintained, so players who were betting with the shooter often urged him not to "get shook." To retain control over the dice, the shooter had to "take it easy" and "take his time." Henslin pointed out that this view of confidence is very similar to one frequently promoted in competitive sports. Athletes are told not to "get shook," because a lack of confidence would interfere with their self-control and ability to concentrate. Of course, this theory might be valid for a skillful activity, such as basketball or baseball, but it has no relevance for games of chance.
Other beliefs surrounded the treatment of the dice. Dropping the dice was seen as a bad omen, but rubbing the dice was thought to improve one’s luck. Often players would rub the dice against the playing surface, and in some cases they would rub them on another player. One shooter rubbed the dice under the chin of the player who was betting against him.
In addition to magical shooting techniques, players employed a number of betting methods to control the dice. It was commonly believed that the shooter could increase the chances of rolling his point if he raised his bet. In one case, a player had rolled several times without hitting his point. After adding a few dollars to his bet, another player remarked, "He’ll make it now. He put more money on it."
Henslin’s craps players, like athletes and exam-takers, represent a subculture rich in magical thinking. Each of these groups confronts a situation in which a particular outcome is both uncertain and highly valued, and each appears to have made superstition an integral part of its activities.
Superstition and religion
Superstition and religion have been always intermixed. In the United state ,the eradication of a desease through “ faith healing” is linked to the fanatic Christian groups ( stuart Vyse, 1997, 2014).
Any religion has a a superstition with in it, a belief which has no rational ground. During the last century Christians has been relying on the irrational. So, scholars have been trying to make faith more intellectually respectable to eradicate it from superstition ( Rev William , 1976).
Though Rev William agreement with what happened in recent decades in christian theology he has always an objection within him he considers weeding out superstition as an important component which has been lost. Superstition alone as an end in itself is misleading but it can also lead to something beyond itself. When a woman was healed just because she touched the hem of jesus’s garment, there was no magical power which make her feeling fine in his cloth but it was her faith. Perhaps the woman acted out of superstition but her cure was beyond superstition and beyong reason as well,  it was not something rational.
Rev William is persuaded that the reason why people leave chrisianity is because it does not keep a space for things beyong reason the need of superstition has been necessary but the result has been dissapointed. People are in need to religion, jesus thaught : take your mind seriously and develop your intellect ti its full potential; then let you intuition, your imagination, your faith, lead on to the further ranges of life and love.


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