Superstition [9:56]


The video starts with two of the most famous early studies in superstition, B. F. Skinner’s “Superstition in the Pidgeon” and then Forer’s “The Fallacy of Personal Validation” concerning astrology.  The short, comprehensive video also discusses the idiomotor effect, wigi boards, ghost hunting shows, homeopathy, placebo effects, medical rituals, prayer, and confirmation bias.  The video ends with a list of pros and cons of what we lose when we dismiss superstitions and the value of taking control over our lives.

Discussion Questions

  • What superstitions do you have or had?
  • What are the pros and cons of superstitions?  Given the positive effects placebos, are there any superstitions that are worth having?
  • What rituals do you have in your life?  Does eating dinner at the same time and place or things like birthday parties count as rituals?
  • Why do you think so many people continue to take homeopathic medicine, pray, and watch ghost hunting shows even when there is so much information out there about them?

Keywords: religion, superstition, astrology, Skinner, biases, homeopathy, placebo, rationality, paranormal, critical thinking


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