Superstition: A Very Short Introduction
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Paperback / softback
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of Pages: 176
Width: 11 cm
Height: 16.9 cm
Do you touch wood for luck, or avoid hotel rooms on floor thirteen? Would you cross the path of a black cat, or step under a ladder? Is breaking a mirror just an expensive waste of glass, or something rather more sinister? Despite the dominance of science in today's world, superstitious beliefs - both traditional and new - remain surprisingly popular. A recent survey of adults in the United States found that 33 percent believed that finding a penny was good luck, and 23 percent believed that the number seven was lucky. Where did these superstitions come from, and why do they persist today? This Very Short Introduction explores the nature and surprising history of superstition from antiquity to the present. For two millennia, superstition was a label derisively applied to foreign religions and unacceptable religious practices, and its primary purpose was used to separate groups and assert religious and social authority. After the Enlightenment, the superstition label was still used to define groups, but the new dividing line was between reason and unreason. Today, despite our apparent sophistication and technological advances, superstitious belief and behaviour remain widespread, and highly educated people are not immune. Stuart Vyse takes an exciting look at the varieties of popular superstitious beliefs today and the psychological reasons behind their continued existence, as well as the likely future course of superstition in our increasingly connected world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Stimulating and informative. * Alexander Faludy, Church Times * This succinct summary of the history of and psychology behind superstition is so superb that I am adopting it for my college course on critical thinking and recommend it be required reading for all social science students. Stuart Vyse is such a marvelous writer and clear thinker, in fact, that this book should be required reading for all humans susceptible to superstitions, which is to say all of humanity. * Michael Shermer, Publisher, Skeptic magazine * Stuart Vyse has packed a lot into this little book, including a comprehensive discussion of the way in which the concept of superstition has changed across the ages, the psychology of superstition, and the implications of superstitious thinking for the modern world - all presented in an engaging and informative style. Highly recommended! * Professor Chris French, Goldsmiths, University of London *