Superstitions

Things that don't belong anywhere else. (Check first).

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Superstitions

Postby skeptical scientist » Thu May 24, 2012 12:11 am UTC

A few days ago, I was hiking with some friends in New Zealand, and commented how lucky we were that the otherwise rainy weather got nice just before we started our hike. Of course, shortly after this comment it started raining, and my friends complained that I had jinxed the weather. Thinking they were joking, I apologized for causing the rain.

A couple days later, a similar incident occurred, and I realized that they hadn't been joking at all—they really did believe that I had the power to alter the weather by remarking on it. (I guess, next time Texas has a drought, I should go on vacation in Austin and repeatedly and loudly remark on how happy I am it's not raining.) When I countered that the whole "jinxing" business was nonsense, and I didn't think anyone actually believed in it, they quickly told me to shut up. Apparently, the universe is more likely to notice your "jinx" and punish you for it when you don't believe it can (or, at least, when you say so out loud). I wasn't quite sure what to make of all this, but I let the matter drop, since I didn't want to get into an argument about it.

What weird superstitions have you been surprised that your friends actually hold? What do you do when something like this happens?
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Re: Superstitions

Postby gaddgadd » Thu May 24, 2012 5:13 am UTC

One of my friends actually believes in luck- as an entity, not "odds". To summarize, she believes that there is a certain unknown factor in any conjecture (Will I win the lottery?). While I understand that it may be hard for the general public to realize that "chances" or "odds" are just words for the factors that humanity cannot calculate to the degree necessary for there to be a 100% chance, I was fairly surprised, as she has somewhat of a mathematics background. I know that this kind of thing wasn't what the OP was looking for, but hey, it fits the strict definition.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby fizzgig » Thu May 24, 2012 5:14 am UTC

I have a friend who bought one of those Power Balance bracelets, that make you fitter and stronger by the power of Holograms.
He even claims that he got a good deal, because he got a cheap one off ebay, instead of paying full price. Because that would have been a rip-off.
When it was pointed out that it couldn't possibly work, he responded with "Well you never know".

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Re: Superstitions

Postby yurell » Thu May 24, 2012 5:43 am UTC

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Re: Superstitions

Postby FakePalindrome » Thu May 24, 2012 10:24 am UTC

Korea is one of the most technologically advanced countries I've ever lived in. I can download a movie in like less than a minute. Everyone and their grandma has a smartphone. So it constantly amazes me that they, no joke, still believe sleeping in a closed room with a fan blowing will kill you, or that you can die if you take a shower less than 24 hours after getting a shot.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby wam » Thu May 24, 2012 10:34 am UTC

Personally I always put my rugby kit on in the same order, have done for years. Not sure if that counts as a superstition.

I also spend a lot of time sailing and the number of superstitions you still run into is pretty amazing. Although its always hard to work out if people are joking.

1) bannas are unlucky
2) women on a boat are bad luck (this ones going out of fashion)
3) mentioning rabbits.
4) whistling brings wind
5) the whole rituals for neptune thing when you cross the equator
6) boiling the kettle brings wind (this may just be the boat I sail on)
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Re: Superstitions

Postby eSOANEM » Thu May 24, 2012 10:50 am UTC

wam wrote:I also spend a lot of time sailing and the number of superstitions you still run into is pretty amazing. Although its always hard to work out if people are joking.

1) bannas are unlucky
2) women on a boat are bad luck (this ones going out of fashion)
3) mentioning rabbits.
4) whistling brings wind
5) the whole rituals for neptune thing when you cross the equator
6) boiling the kettle brings wind (this may just be the boat I sail on)


I also sail (albeit mostly dinghies rather than yachts), I haven't heard of any of these really (at least not IRL), maybe they were hiding them from us because we weren't real yachties. The closest I got to one of these was the bananas one but that wasn't due to any superstitious belief per se, but rather a belief that the banana skin, if thrown overboard, would form a layer of oil around itself and so not decompose and become a hazard to sea life.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby wam » Thu May 24, 2012 11:00 am UTC

1) I hadn't heard of until someone mentioned it last year, we think its something to do with when they picked up bannas in the old days they would get loads of spiders and other insects with them.

2) was pretty common back in the day.

3) no idea about the rabbits one although wikipedia suggests its something to do specifically with portland.

4) Can't remember where I heard that one.

5) I mainly got from watching documentaries about round the world races from the 70s and 80s, some of those rituals used to be pretty bad.

6) I think this one is just from our boat, whenever were drifting we put the kettle on and the wind comes up and disrupts thte tea drinking.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby MinotaurWarrior » Sat May 26, 2012 9:24 am UTC

I've heard that the rabbit thing is more of a general superstition, because rabbits are a nuisance animal in many areas. Basically, you don't want to jinx yourself by saying rabbit, when rabbits are a major threat to gardens and whatnot.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby Menacing Spike » Sat May 26, 2012 10:16 am UTC

religion

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Re: Superstitions

Postby yurell » Sat May 26, 2012 10:26 am UTC

You've no idea how hard I had to try to not post that myself. I was rather surprised to find out some people I know hold part of that set of superstitions.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Djehutynakht » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:33 am UTC

I personally don't have it, but I do know that some old Italians in my neighborhood believe it's bad luck to leave by the same entrance you come in (I think it applies to a house in general though, not like, a room with one door).

What else. Hm... shoes on the table are bad luck. My mother believed birds are bad luck/unsanitary.


There's an old theatre industry curse that saying the word/performing "Macbeth" in theatres is cursed. The idea is that Shakespeare actually got the inspiration for the Weird Sisters and stole their spells from three actual witches he spied on in Stradford-on-Avon, and as revenge they cursed his play. It's been attributed to many deaths/stage accidents in productions of Macbeth (for instance, sabers getting the ball on the tip knocked off and actors being skewered as a result). Apparently the "cure" if you say it is to go outside the theater, turn around three times, spit over your shoulder, and then knock on the door (three times?) and wait to be let back in.

I've heard that the Navajo actually treat Cayotes like black cats... in that they refuse to cross a cayote's path, believing it bad luck. I've heard stories of some (older) Navajo, if they were driving down a road and a cayote suddenly ran across ahead, they would immediately stop the vehicle and turn around rather then continue along the road.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby Kewangji » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:10 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:There's an old theatre industry curse that saying the word/performing "Macbeth" in theatres is cursed. The idea is that Shakespeare actually got the inspiration for the Weird Sisters and stole their spells from three actual witches he spied on in Stradford-on-Avon, and as revenge they cursed his play. It's been attributed to many deaths/stage accidents in productions of Macbeth (for instance, sabers getting the ball on the tip knocked off and actors being skewered as a result). Apparently the "cure" if you say it is to go outside the theater, turn around three times, spit over your shoulder, and then knock on the door (three times?) and wait to be let back in.

You forgot the most fun part of this: one should refer to it as 'the Scottish play', shouldn't one? Which leads to referring to certain computers as 'the Scottish laptop', naturally.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Djehutynakht » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:36 am UTC

Kewangji wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:There's an old theatre industry curse that saying the word/performing "Macbeth" in theatres is cursed. The idea is that Shakespeare actually got the inspiration for the Weird Sisters and stole their spells from three actual witches he spied on in Stradford-on-Avon, and as revenge they cursed his play. It's been attributed to many deaths/stage accidents in productions of Macbeth (for instance, sabers getting the ball on the tip knocked off and actors being skewered as a result). Apparently the "cure" if you say it is to go outside the theater, turn around three times, spit over your shoulder, and then knock on the door (three times?) and wait to be let back in.

You forgot the most fun part of this: one should refer to it as 'the Scottish play', shouldn't one? Which leads to referring to certain computers as 'the Scottish laptop', naturally.



Never knew that part.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby Aceo » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:14 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:There's an old theatre industry curse that saying the word/performing "Macbeth" in theatres is cursed. The idea is that Shakespeare actually got the inspiration for the Weird Sisters and stole their spells from three actual witches he spied on in Stradford-on-Avon, and as revenge they cursed his play. It's been attributed to many deaths/stage accidents in productions of Macbeth (for instance, sabers getting the ball on the tip knocked off and actors being skewered as a result). Apparently the "cure" if you say it is to go outside the theater, turn around three times, spit over your shoulder, and then knock on the door (three times?) and wait to be let back in.

You forgot the most fun part of this: one should refer to it as 'the Scottish play', shouldn't one? Which leads to referring to certain computers as 'the Scottish laptop', naturally.


Yes, never mention Macbeth.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby PurplePenguin » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:52 pm UTC

I have a friend who believes eating your Chinese zodiac animal (in his case, rabbit) is unlucky. Not sure if that's a commonly held belief or just his personal view, since I've never known anyone who takes the zodiac as super seriously as he does.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby Choboman » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:05 pm UTC

One of the guys on my team at work (grew up in Taiwan) takes Chinese astrology very seriously. Educated MBA-holding professional, but it's hard to shake the habits you pick up during childhood.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby DaBigCheez » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:23 pm UTC

PurplePenguin wrote:I have a friend who believes eating your Chinese zodiac animal (in his case, rabbit) is unlucky. Not sure if that's a commonly held belief or just his personal view, since I've never known anyone who takes the zodiac as super seriously as he does.

I'll make a note not to eat Dragon then...
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Re: Superstitions

Postby harun55 » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:11 pm UTC

Simply ignore it dude. Its sheer non sense and baseless!

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Re: Superstitions

Postby curtis95112 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:21 pm UTC

YES! Don't let superstition stop you eating dragon!
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:50 pm UTC

I'd better stop eating all this horse.

While trying to find which Chinese year I was born in, I found this 99% accurate chart which predicts your sex based on the mother's age and the date of conception. Apparently, I was 99% likely to be female? But it must be true, it was dug up in a 700year old grave in Beijing.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Weeks » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:33 am UTC

FakePalindrome wrote:still believe sleeping in a closed room with a fan blowing will kill you
Half of Panama would be dead if this were the case! And a few hundred million people elsewhere too.

On the other hand, I don't believe smartphones exist on account of not having one.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby darknut » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:46 am UTC

Dr. Diaphanous wrote:I'd better stop eating all this horse.

While trying to find which Chinese year I was born in, I found this 99% accurate chart which predicts your sex based on the mother's age and the date of conception. Apparently, I was 99% likely to be female? But it must be true, it was dug up in a 700year old grave in Beijing.

you're just that 1% anomaly is all, clearly, the chart is fine

also, it gave me a laugh when i noticed the background on that page
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Menacing Spike » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:39 am UTC

darknut wrote:also, it gave me a laugh when i noticed the background on that page


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Re: Superstitions

Postby Adacore » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:32 pm UTC

Aside from the Korean fan-death thing previously mentioned (which is understandable, if no less ridiculous, since the Korean government actively publicises it and releases 'fan death warnings'; wikipedia quotes one from 2006), the main superstitions I come across are in gaming.

Some/most of it is obviously just people faking superstitions, but there are a lot of people who genuinely believe in 'lucky dice' when playing D&D and numbers being 'hot' in Settlers of Catan. One of the people I regularly play Settlers of Catan with really frustrates me sometimes by picking completely illogical hexes to block with the robber because that number is rolling frequently, blocking a '3' with two settlements instead of a '6' with two cities, for example.

Of course, I know a few people who really believe in various astrological stuff, and there's the other Korean thing where your blood type determines your personality (in much the same way as your star sign).

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Re: Superstitions

Postby webzter_again » Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:07 am UTC

Adacore wrote:and there's the other Korean thing where your blood type determines your personality


Here we just tie blood type to the type of food you should eat

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Re: Superstitions

Postby PeteP » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:23 am UTC

Adacore wrote:Aside from the Korean fan-death thing previously mentioned (which is understandable, if no less ridiculous, since the Korean government actively publicises it and releases 'fan death warnings'; wikipedia quotes one from 2006), the main superstitions I come across are in gaming.

Some/most of it is obviously just people faking superstitions, but there are a lot of people who genuinely believe in 'lucky dice' when playing D&D and numbers being 'hot' in Settlers of Catan. One of the people I regularly play Settlers of Catan with really frustrates me sometimes by picking completely illogical hexes to block with the robber because that number is rolling frequently, blocking a '3' with two settlements instead of a '6' with two cities, for example.

Of course, I know a few people who really believe in various astrological stuff, and there's the other Korean thing where your blood type determines your personality (in much the same way as your star sign).

I can understand the Settler of Catan thing. Sometimes you have wonderful fields with a 6, but the 6 just almost never appears but the 4 (which you don't have) comes up all the time. I know that it makes no sense to base your tactic on it, but the pattern recognition parts of my brain insist on noticing it anyway.^^

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Re: Superstitions

Postby Enokh » Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:17 pm UTC

Myself and a lot of my friends play D&D and various dice-based war games (Warmachine and the like), and the amount of people who insist that they only roll low numbers astounds me. Or they'll switch dice in the middle of a game because the ones they're using are unlucky.

Religion in general, though I never really think of it in terms of superstition. Strangely, I do think of the whole Karma thing as superstition when people mention it to me. Though, I'm pretty sure Karma from the Eastern religion(s?) only determines what happens after you die and/or what you are reincarnated as, whereas all the people that mention it to me see it as a force of nature that will backhand me if I do something "bad". And not in that I'll get caught and punished, but something completely unrelated will happen to me due to Karma. I've always wondered if there was basis for that in the Bible (I hear it from Christians more than anyone else).

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Re: Superstitions

Postby Angua » Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:25 pm UTC

Karma is thought of as both (at least according to the Buddhists I've talked to) - it can come back at any time, either in this lifetime, or the next, and isn't only to do with what you come back as, though it influences that as well. It is generally somewhat related, though not necessarily the exact same thing - eg if you steal something valuable from someone, you might find yourself losing your own possessions (though not necessarily by theft - it could be like losing your job so the bank repossesses your house), or you are reincarnated as someone without many possessions in the future.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Iceman » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:21 pm UTC

My favourite example of the random chance superstition were 2 friends I used to go to the Casino with a fair bit.

I played poker, they liked Roulette and Blackjack.

One guy was adamant that Red coming up 5 times meant it was 'Hot'
The other guy was always convinced red coming up 5 times meant Black was 'Due'

One guy always played blackjack by the book, and would get made whenever anyone deviated from the book because they were screwing up the order of the cards for him.
The other guy would commonly hit or refuse to hit against the odds because he wanted to 'give' or 'steal' the card from the Dealer.

I tried on several occassions to point out how they were both completely wrong, but It never took.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby philsov » Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:49 pm UTC

I habitually kiss the ceiling whenever I pass under a yellow traffic light.

The superstition is long dead, but the action still occurs.

I have a friend who believes eating your Chinese zodiac animal (in his case, rabbit) is unlucky.


As a pig I violate this on at least a monthly basis. You dragons and tigers and monkeys have it soooo easy.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Weeks » Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:23 pm UTC

I personally don't eat horses.

You definitely see those random chance superstitions in other games. Say you're playing Pokemon and your Pikachu has landed Thunder 3 times in a row. Your opponent might call it hax, and/or expect the next Thunder to miss. (75% chance to hit, in case you're not into pokemon)

Though I'm not sure those are superstitions so much as plain fallacies.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Adacore » Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:43 pm UTC

Weeks wrote:Though I'm not sure those are superstitions so much as plain fallacies.

Yeah - I was wondering that when I wrote my previous post. At what point do logical fallacies and people not understanding statistics become superstition? The most obvious case where superstition is present is when people who definitely do understand the statistics still hold the irrational beliefs, but I think it's present in a lot of cases where the statistics aren't understood as well.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:28 am UTC

PurplePenguin wrote:I have a friend who believes eating your Chinese zodiac animal (in his case, rabbit) is unlucky. Not sure if that's a commonly held belief or just his personal view, since I've never known anyone who takes the zodiac as super seriously as he does.


That's odd. I'm the pig/boar and coincidentally I really never eat pork. I mean, I have, and I could, I just never do.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby omgryebread » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:27 am UTC

I still cross my fingers a lot. Sometimes not even automatically. I'll consciously make the decision to, even after thinking about the fact it will have absolutely no effect.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Meteoric » Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:57 am UTC

Adacore wrote:
Weeks wrote:Though I'm not sure those are superstitions so much as plain fallacies.

Yeah - I was wondering that when I wrote my previous post. At what point do logical fallacies and people not understanding statistics become superstition? The most obvious case where superstition is present is when people who definitely do understand the statistics still hold the irrational beliefs, but I think it's present in a lot of cases where the statistics aren't understood as well.

I've played various dice-based games (RPGs and wargames mostly) with friends who definitely know better, and still insist with a completely straight face for years on end that dice are basically fickle gods that must be appeased by observing various rituals. It drives me nuts, but I guess maybe it helps them cope with how utterly beyond their control the dice are. Losing your character that you've played for years because the dice handed you a long streak of critical failures in an important situation does, admittedly, make one feel like the universe has it in for them personally.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby tastelikecoke » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:14 am UTC

Whenever you get lost, you should flip your shirt so you can come back safe. Taking a bath at night will make you lose blood, Singing causes rain. Some of your neighbors are literally winged half-humans. Those are among of the cooler superstitions around here, others... well I have a quest to tell people what "no therapeutic claims" really mean.

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Re: Superstitions

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:06 am UTC

Meteoric wrote:
Adacore wrote:
Weeks wrote:Though I'm not sure those are superstitions so much as plain fallacies.

Yeah - I was wondering that when I wrote my previous post. At what point do logical fallacies and people not understanding statistics become superstition? The most obvious case where superstition is present is when people who definitely do understand the statistics still hold the irrational beliefs, but I think it's present in a lot of cases where the statistics aren't understood as well.

I've played various dice-based games (RPGs and wargames mostly) with friends who definitely know better, and still insist with a completely straight face for years on end that dice are basically fickle gods that must be appeased by observing various rituals. It drives me nuts, but I guess maybe it helps them cope with how utterly beyond their control the dice are. Losing your character that you've played for years because the dice handed you a long streak of critical failures in an important situation does, admittedly, make one feel like the universe has it in for them personally.


Whenever I come across "dice gods" superstitions, it's always been jokingly. I dunno though, that could be in part due to the fact that I have an enormous tub of dice many of which cannot be distinguished so I can't separate out the good dice.

The only slight dice-gods ritual I ever do is having one lucky die. It's a clear blue die, slightly large than my others which I usually use for keeping track of the number of turns elapsed in a game. In a tough spot, after a load of bad rolls, I'll sometimes use it instead of the other dice. Of course, I know it's complete bollocks, but it seems a better way of expressing frustration at bad rolls than some other reactions I've seen.

I've also joked about, after a game full of bad rolls on my part, buying a pack of new dice and burning them in a virgin sacrifice to the dice gods. I've never actually done that, again, it's just a bit of a joke.
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Re: Superstitions

Postby Soralin » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:21 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:The only slight dice-gods ritual I ever do is having one lucky die. It's a clear blue die, slightly large than my others which I usually use for keeping track of the number of turns elapsed in a game. In a tough spot, after a load of bad rolls, I'll sometimes use it instead of the other dice. Of course, I know it's complete bollocks, but it seems a better way of expressing frustration at bad rolls than some other reactions I've seen.

Well, not necessarily. Real life dice aren't perfect, Vegas takes a lot of effort to ensure that its dice are of uniform density, that the fill in for the pits on each side is of the same density, that they're machined, with nice sharp edges, etc. And even then, they replace them frequently, as the edges wear down with use, and become smoothed instead of sharp. Dice that you probably purchase typically don't have such rigorous standards, and are usually injection molded instead of machined. So, if you look at a whole bunch of dice, it's likely that some will be weighted or shaped slightly differently than others, that could give them a slightly higher chance on landing on certain sides.

So see, you might not be superstitious, you might simply be cheating. ;)

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Re: Superstitions

Postby folkhero » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:13 pm UTC

These dice superstitions remind me of a game of Risk I played many years ago. Most the dice from the original game were lost so we just used whatever six-sided dice were laying around. One of my friends decided to never use a particular die because it was ugly or something. Superstition or aesthetic choice or whatever, but it's not like it would hurt him, in fact he was doing extremely well. He was sprawling his empire over continents and becoming the dominant power, nothing extraordinary but he was having a very nice game. About halfway through the game someone took a closer look at this ugly die and realized it only went up to three. It had one, two and three each on two separate sides. No one had noticed for over an hour of playing because it was always mixed in with other dice. So his superstition happened to coincide with reality, but he didn't actually get the win out of it since we abandoned the game immediately as soon as we discovered that we were playing with a dud die.
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