Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Superstition

Note: I believe this post states the extremely obvious. Some moment of clarity allows me to see the obvious. I write it so that I'll remember it well.
After many conversations with people on their superstitions surrounding, exams, interviews, new ventures - I have developed certain interesting observations on this subject. Many people have lucky dates, days, lucky colors, clothes, combs, powder, perfume, vehicles, God etc. It is either formed as a result of some intuition or as a result of a 'perceived' causality ("You were born on 12th, got your job on 12th, got married on 12th etc. So 12th and and 3 (1+2) are lucky for you). When superstition is formed for the first time ever, its relatively innocuous. People don't have a preconceived notion of what is lucky for them, they are innocent to superstition and discover their own path and end up finding out their superstitions in retrospect. Interestingly, causality, analyzed in retrospect focuses on the trivial and blurs the obvious.
Life gets screwed when people hit the same situation/crisis-point for the second time in their lives. Now they are facing the most difficult challenge of their lives and they know what their superstitions are. They know their lucky date is 15th and lucky suit is xyz, lucky airlines is RyanAir, lucky day is Friday etc. Intriguingly, people approach the challenging situation by trying to work out the superstition in their favor. Its not that they put no effort into the 'real' preparation but they spend some significant time sorting their superstitions. They buy a new car on Friday, schedule their interview/operation/ business-opening-day on 15th, wear they lucky suit, fly in RyanAir to a Friday interview. Preparing for university exam, by sitting in their favorite position, wearing their favorite half-pant, visiting their favorite temple (Lucky N times pradakshanam, Lucky J times Jabam), watching their favorite TV show - is considered time that is productively spent towards ensuring success. My theory is people don't do those activities if you label those activities as superstition. But since those activities don't answer to the name of 'superstition' - people think these are some what acceptable. These are people who aren't outwardly superstitious. You wouldn't even guess/believe that they have superstitions (remember these activities aren't called that). They wouldn't part with this information if you aren't their close friend and if you don't probe them on this.
Time spent on such activities in inversely proportional to success. The more self-assured you are that you have aligned all your superstitions in your favor, while facing your biggest challenge, the more the probability of failure. The key is to deliberately do the opposite of what you feel is lucky for you. That way you get rid of the distraction.

5 comments:

Ace of Space said...

I have seen people who sit in a particular room, in a particular position to watch Indian cricket matches and refuse to move from there for fear of something going wrong! As if their movement is directly proportional to Indian team's performance ;-)

Deepa said...

Act like George Costanza?

Neo said...

Nice write up. Sorry to be out of context, but how do you know Paruthiveeran's Karthi ?

Anonymous said...

superstition is just an extension of science .. its ultimately based on observation and extrapolation without any regard for reason, which is not necessarily bad when you can't reason a certain observation.

but, what really puzzles me is that how deeply involved or confident people are of their superstitions ..

-SR

HS student said...

superstitons are all in the mind & people just like having somthing to believe in even if it is unheard of.