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I recently read an article about superstitions going out of style in this modern era. Horrors! What would the world be like with no superstitions?

I grew up with superstitions. Our babysitter/cook, who lived with our family, was a country lady from the hills of southern Virginia. Mary knew her superstitions.  Consequently, so did we! Do not walk under ladders; always throw salt over your shoulder if you knock over the shaker; check out the wooly worm stripes and the number of acorns in the fall; and whatever you do, don’t let a black cat cross your path. I did point out to Mary that we had two black cats as pets and that they had crossed our paths thousands of times. I suppose that my two brothers and I started life with ten lashes of a cat-o’-nine-tails against us.

Even today, I wonder if the weather will indeed clear up if there’s enough blue sky to make a Dutchman a pair of pants, or if the Devil is beating his wife too hard during that thunderstorm, or if it will rain again tomorrow since it rained today while the sun was out.

Then too, Mary espoused the idea of “notions.”  “Taking a notion” could be either positive or negative. Examples of positive notions might be Mary’s taking a notion to bake a delicious pound cake, or my brother taking a notion to actually study for a test, or Mary’s sorry-ass cousin taking a notion to get a job and earn some money. Negative notions could be the bank robber taking a notion to hold a lady hostage, or the cat taking a notion to nap on the kitchen counter (Midnight didn’t have that notion again!), or a neighborhood teenager taking a notion to run off with her boyfriend. Taking a notion seemed to imply a lot more weight and creativity than simply doing something. I’m not sure that there is a term for these notions in behavioral science.

What are we missing today by listening only to all those scientists? Science can’t explain everything. Let’s leave ourselves open to a little folklore, a superstition, some pseudoscience. And what would Mary think about many of the notions that people take today?!!

 

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