Collaborators: Feiou Su, Gunjan Raheja, Priyal Parikh, Raha Ghassemi
Professor: Anezka Sebek
Class: Major Studio I
Assignment: One Topic, Many Projects
What causes people to believe in superstitions?
Diaz, Junot. 2007. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Riverhead Books.
Precedence showing the idea of how superstition shows up in cultures dealing with a lot of strife. Dominicans in this books often believe in something called “fuku” which is basically bad luck put on a family during the reign of the dictator, Trujillo.
Durkheim, Emile. 1912. The elementary forms of religious life. 1st ed.Oxford Paperbacks.
A sociologist who believed Sir James Frazer’s ideas on the difference between magic and religion needed to include the social functions of each. He said that objects and activities within each culture can be separated into the “sacred” and the “profane”, and that magical things can also be sacred. He stated that religion serves the group while magic serves the individual since there is no need for a community.
Evans-Pritchard, E.E. 1937. Witchcraft,Magic and Oracles among the Azande. Oxford :
E.E. Evans-Pritchard is an anthropologist lived during 1902-1973. He was considered one of the fathers of social anthropology. This book is about his research and observation towards the Azande group in Sudan, Africa. Mainly focused on their social activities related to magical belief and rituals. He also uncovered several different reactions in the Azande group towards Warcraft and witches, including blame, discovering and frightening. This book researched on the lives in a primitive tribe that had strong superstitions involved in their lives, it is a reference on how superstition affect people in the simpler society structure. Which helps us to know all the basics of superstition, only after that we can keep our research going on and put in our discovery in the modern society.
Frazer, James (1915) . The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (3rd ed.).
James Frazer is a founding father of modern anthropology. He was very influential in the early stages of studies considering mythology and superstitions. The piece of reference documented and detailed many different superstitions and magical customs and rituals from many places. In his theory, human belief has 3 stages: primitive magic, religion and science, step by step. I don’t really think change of human belief is a simple model as that, but it is good to see.
Hirani, Rajkumar. 2014. “PK“.
Rajkumar Hirani is an Indian director, screenwriter and film editor. He is best known for his films “3 idiots” and “PK”. The film tells the story of an alien who comes to earth, and questions religious dogmas and superstitions. He has won 11 filmfare awards. PK was the first Indian film to gross $100 million dollars worldwide.
Hirst, Damien Steven. 2007. Superstition.
Damien Hirst is an English artist, entrepreneur and art collector. Some of his first works based on kaleidoscopic designs of a butterfly were included in an exhibition “Superstition”. His works were named twice, once after his own allusions of spirituality and religious iconography and the second after references to the poetry of Philip Larkin. His work is a precedence to depiction of superstition in art.
Horton, Robin. 1967. “African traditional thought and western science: Part I. From
tradition to science“. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 37 (1): 50–71.
Horton, Robin (1967). “African traditional thought and western science: Part II. The
‘closed’ and ‘open’ predicaments”.Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
37 (2): 155–87.
Horton is an English anthropologist notable for his comparative methodology and scientific approach towards studies of religions. The books compares the primitive tribes in Africa and the western countries in beliefs and religions. Analyzed how people react and due with certain things in this two highly different cultures and from the result found similarities within superstition beliefs and scientific ones. He argued that superstitions and science are the sons of same parents, which are the willingness to uncover and understand complex incidents in their lives.
Hutson, Matthew. 2012. “The Seven Law of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep
Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane “. Hudson Street Press.
Hutson Matthew is a journalist in NYC. He specialized in cognitive neuroscience and psychological science writing, always studying human behavior for more than 30 years. In this book, his idea is that we as human beings are always asking ourselves the reason why we are here and why we are exist so that we believe in magical thinking. He says people tend to link anecdote or accident with certain other thing to explain coincidence. He also discussed how these kind of thoughts are helpful in human everyday life. People need the magical thinking, he argues, because they need to use that to comfort their minds with coincidence and lack of control of their own lives.
Jahoda, Gustav. 1969. The psychology of superstition. Vol. 158. Oxford, England: Penguin
Gustav Jahoda is a Viennese psychologist born in 1920, focusing on cross-cultural psychology. He studied sociology and psychology at London University, and in 1952 he took up a post at a university in present-day Ghana. Although the book is 46 years old now, the findings in psychology and anthropology are supposedly still informative. This was a good foundation and a good place to start to truly understand what has led to Superstitions and the thought processes behind them.
Jung, C. G. 1969. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, 2nd ed., trans. by R.F.C.
Hull. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969, p. 4.
C. G. Jung was a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. His work has been influential in philosophy, anthropology, archeology, literature and religious studies. His book is an insight on many of his key concepts like personal and collective unconsciousness wherein he explores the evolutionary and cultural factors that impact personal development. He rejects the Freudian theory of subconscious and says that personal unconscious is at the brink of conscious where an individual collects all his supressed or forgotten memories that impact his self-efficacy.
Keinan, Giora. The Effects of Stress and Desire for Control on Superstitious Behavior. Pers Soc
Psychol Bull January 2002 vol. 28 no. 1 102-108. doi: 10.1177/0146167202281009
Prof. Giora Keinan served as Chief Psychologist of the Navy and the Head of the Diagnostic Branch in the IDF and is now a faculty member of Psychology at Tel Aviv University. His fields of interest include stress and cognition, stress management, personality assessment and clinical interview. The main purpose of his study was to test that the frequency of magical thinking and superstitious behavior increases under conditions of stress. His study then concluded the reason for such behavior corresponds to people’s desire for control which they seem to lose during stressful conditions.
Kripke, Eric. 2005. Supernatural.
Eric Kripke is a writer and producer, best known for the TV series “Supernatural”, “Boogeyman” and “Revolution”. Supernatural is a TV series about two brothers fight evil supernatural beings on earth with biblical references forming the crux of the story. This show of interest because it uses religious ideals and superstitions to show how it would be if they were to exist.
Landis, Denise. 2011. Scarecrow Doxie.
Denise Landis has an MA in art therapy. As an artist, she focuses on pointillism. Her artwork Scarecrow Doxie is a part of the exhibition “Artists of the Superstitions Studio Tour”. Her artwork is an example of how regularly believed superstitions can be converted into art pieces/
Lindeman, Marjaana. 2007. Superstitious, magical, and paranormal beliefs: An integrative
model. Journal of Research in Personality vol. 41 no. 4. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2006.06.009
Marjaana Lindeman is a professor at the Institute of Behavioral Sciences in the University of Helsinki with a PhD in cognitive psychology and differential psychology. The aim of the study was to develop a framework which differentiates these concepts from other unfounded beliefs and defined identically as a confusion of core knowledge about physical, psychological and biological phenomenon. the study ended justifying the present conceptualization of superstitious, magical and paranormal beliefs and offered new theoretical propositions for everyday beliefs which are poorly understood scientifically.
Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1925. Magic, science, and religion: And other essays, ed. Waveland
After fieldwork from 1914-1918 among the Trobriand Islanders in New Guinea, Bronislaw found that societies with magic combine those rituals with scientific knowledge. Separate realms used for the same end. He found that magic only shows up when a pursuit is uncertain and beyond the control of scientific methods.
Mercado, Ale. Born under a bad sign.
Precedence in art showing a man explaining his bad luck as being due to the circumstances of his birth. This is an example of using superstition as an explanation for misfortunes and problems.
Padgett, Vernon R. and Jorgenson, Dale O. 1982. Superstition and economic threat:
Germany, 1918-1940. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 8 (4): 736.
This journal article my two psychologists based in California outlines a study done to show the correlation between superstitions and economic threats. After recognizing an increase in the number of articles on astrology, mysticism, and cults that appeared in German periodicals at the same time that wages had gone down and unemployment had gone up, they concluded that superstition increases as environmental uncertainty increases. Other examples given in this article that prove the same idea include the 1665 London plague, as well as the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s.
Shweder, Richard A. 1977. “Likeness and likelihood in everyday thought: Magical thinking
in judgments about personality”. Current Anthropology 18 (4): 637–58 (637). doi:10.1086/201974.
Shweder crosses his field between anthropology and psychology. He is a figure in American cultural anthropology and psychology researchers. In his book, he normalized superstitions into magical thinking, and he argued that it is a universal disinclination that everyone keeps doing by relating their experience to some unrelated cues. His theory is that magical thinking is a characteristic of everyone’s everyday thought which is correlation and contingency that cannot be found in human reasoning.
Sherman, Michael. 1997. “Why People Believe Weird Things : Pseudoscience, Superstitions
and other confusions of our time”. Oxford University Press, USA.
Michael Sherman is an American Science writer and historian of Science. In his Book, he explains how one comes to believe in things without evidence. He explains how people deceive themselves, in their pursuit to layout their beliefs. Two of his main reasons of why people believe weird things are Ignorance and Immediate Gratification.
Thomas, Keith. 1971. Religion and the decline of magic. Oxford University Press.
A historian who disagreed with Malinowski’s notion that magic starts where scientific knowledge ends. This means that magic is defeated by progress, which he found to be untrue. Instead magic is defeated and replaced why a popular psyche involving new aspiration and a spirit of self-reliance in a society.
Vyse, Stuart. 1997. “Believing in Magic : The Psychology of Superstition“. Oxford
University Press, USA.
Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and a writer. His book won the William James Book award of the American Psychological Association. In his book, he explains how superstitions are common among people of all occupations. He investigates our tendency towards these irrational beliefs. He explains that Superstitions are the natural result of several psychological processes, including human sensitivity to coincidence, coping with uncertainty and need for control.
Wonder, Stevie. 1972. Superstition. Tamla.
Precedence in music exploring the definition of superstition and Stevie Wonder’s ideas on it’s negative impact on people.