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The Persistent Role of Superstition

In Michael Shermer’s groundbreaking book Why People Believe Weird Things, he explores different realms of superstitious beliefs as they connect to religion or conspiracy. Shermer points out that these beliefs prevail because they support ideologies that in turn connect to power systems.

So, superstitious rituals usually hinge on concepts of self-identity and place in society. After all, many such rituals, such as knocking on wood, are far removed from their Celtic origins. Rather, they’re a mild form of performance art, a means of expressing one’s status and conscientiousness, as well as demonstrating social graces. After all, it’s rude to not say “bless you” after someone sneezes.

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