Superstition: A wider perspective needed
In ‘Defense of Superstition’, Hutson (2012) asserts that humans inevitably exhibit some amount of superstition in their behavior and thought and that it is instinctual and acceptable to do so given the psychological benefits that they bring. Hutson justifies his claim with two reasons. He first postulates that belief in superstition can boost self-belief ahead of performance-based tasks, as people perceive that they are better able to influence the outcome when they adhere to their personal superstitious rituals. Secondly, Hutson asserts that irrational beliefs such as the belief in god and karma helps people to assign causality between unrelated events and bring meaning to life instead of accepting chance as the only reason for all happenings. Although his arguments are generally logical and corroborated by evidence, Hutson presents a myopic notion of ‘superstition’. Next, he dismisses the drawbacks of superstition rapidly without weighing up the cases for and against. Lastly, Hutson also fails to deliver persuasive evidence to pillar his case. With his rather lopsided argument and questionable substantiation, Hutson fails to convince me that superstition is beneficial.
Superstition can be broadly defined as “irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially leading to good luck or bad luck or a practice based on such belief”(Oxford, 2010). However, throughout the passage, Hutson inadequately conceptualizes superstition as personalized beliefs intended to bring good luck or beliefs that validate our existence, thereby confining his arguments to the benefits of ‘positive superstition’. This enables him to rapidly dismiss the anti-thesis, as in his last paragraph, by claiming that the absence of irrationality will overwhelm us. However, irrationality has unquestionable downsides that cannot be ignored. Firstly, research has shown that belief in superstition in a person often stems from anxiety and low...
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