Magical Thinking

Fingers Crossed


“Since man cannot live without miracles, he will provide himself with miracles of his own making. He will believe in witchcraft and sorcery, even though he may otherwise be a heretic, an atheist, and a rebel.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


Superstitions are odd. Some people believe in them. Religiously. Others, like myself, indulge in the occasional bit of magical thinking without ever really believing it. It’s not so much superstition as habit. Touching wood as a way of warding off fate. Wearing those lucky underpants so your team wins, even though the other million plus fans are doing the same thing and if they don’t does that mean your ‘magic’ doesn’t work?

For me it’s not about believing something bad will happen if I don’t do this or that, it’s more that if I don’t do it and something bad does happen, I’ll blame myself. That kind of thinking is fucked up but we all do it, in one way or another, on a daily basis.

It is part of our language. Fingers crossed, this will happen. How exactly is crossing your fingers going to make the least bit of difference on a scientific or even a spiritual level. Kids often use crossed fingers when telling a lie because apparently, if you have your fingers crossed whatever you just said doesn’t count.

Some accounts of ‘fingers crossed’ suggests its Christian roots whilst others speak of pre-christian uses. Either way, it has today become a means of superstition along with a myriad other little ‘habits’.

In some cultures the number 13 is seen as lucky. In others, not so. Numbers are used throughout the world to denote luck or indeed the opposite. I number my edits when designing brochures and packaging. Each change is saved as a new file with a new number because that way everyone knows which is the latest version and confusion is avoided. But when I reach version 13, I skip to 14. Why? I’m shrugging at this point.

So do I believe in magical thinking. Sure I do. I indulge in it every day and so I must believe in it. Do I believe that bad things will happen if I don’t keep up this magical thinking? Not really no, but why tempt fate.

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