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Superstition: A Credulous Belief Not Based on Reason or Knowledge

  • Date Submitted: 09/16/2010 03:35 AM
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Superstition
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For other uses, see Superstition (disambiguation).
Clay hamsa on a wall, believed to protect the inhabitants of the house from harm

Superstition is a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge. The word is often used pejoratively to refer to folk beliefs deemed irrational, which is appropiate since irrational means "not based on reason". This leads to some superstitions being called "old wives' tales". It is also commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy and spiritual beings, particularly the irrational belief that future events can be foretold by specific unrelated prior events.

The etymology is from the classical Latin superstitio, literally "a standing over [in amazement]", but other interpretations include an over-scrupulousness in religion or a "hold-over" from older beliefs .[1] The word is attested in the 1st century BC, notably in Livy and Ovid, in the meaning of an unreasonable or excessive belief in fear or magic, especially foreign or fantastical ideas. Cicero, however, derives the term from the "superstitiosi" ("survivors"): parents indulging in excessive prayer and sacrifice hoping that their children would survive them to perform their necessary funeral rituals.[2] By the 1st century AD, it came to refer to "religious awe, sanctity; a religious rite" more generally.[3][4]
Contents
[hide]

    * 1 Superstition and folklore
    * 2 Superstition and religion
    * 3 Superstition and psychology
    * 4 See also
    * 5 References
    * 6 Further reading

[edit] Superstition and folklore
Main article: Folk belief

To European medieval scholars the word was applied to any beliefs outside of or in opposition to Christianity; today it is applied to conceptions without foundation in, or in contravention of, scientific and logical knowledge.[5] Many extant western...

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