I bought this umbrella recently. Melbourne is a place where you often need an umbrella – it pays to carry one with you some days. Just a few days ago, I left mine in my car and consequently trudged back to my car after work in the rain, getting drenched in the process.
But I digress.
I was leaving a physiotherapy appointment one evening a few weeks ago and dashed into a little boutique to explore what they had. I’ve been meaning to pick up a new umbrella lately, and wanted a black one. But of course, I wanted something a little different than just the usual black umbrella. I could tell that there was something printed on the lining of the umbrella and I thought I knew what it was, but wasn’t sure. So I asked the lady who worked there what was printed inside and she told me to just open it up.
Was she crazy? Open up the umbrella indoors?! I told her I couldn’t possibly do that, it’s such bad luck. She laughed and took the umbrella from me, offering to open it herself. I was not thrilled with the idea of being next to someone holding an open umbrella indoors, but I wanted to see the inside, so I told her to go ahead, but it was totally on her if anything bad happened. We laughed about the whole thing and I was happy to find a map of Melbourne on the inside of the umbrella and I purchased it.
I told my Dad this story on the phone one day shortly after and he said to me “And you call yourself a scientist!?”, which got me thinking – is it ok for me to be a scientist and to also be superstitious?
Superstition is the belief in a supernatural connection between things, which does seem to contradict the world of science. Can I count on science to prove our existence, to cure diseases, to explain how the world works and yet still believe that something bad will happen to me if I open umbrella indoors? Or if I walk under a ladder? Or if I get out of bed on the wrong side?
I believe everything in the paragraph above – both the science and the superstition. I had a drink after work with a friend last week and we talked about this. We are both scientists and we are both superstitious. I did some research and found this website which lists some common superstitions, and I’ve pulled some out for you here:
- Friday the 13th is an unlucky day
- Finding a 4-leaf clover is good luck
- Breaking a mirror brings you 7 years bad luck
- An itchy palm means money will come your way (actually we were always told that an itchy left palm means money coming in, an itchy right palm means money going out!)
And I had to include these ones below, because they really made me laugh:
- Eating fish makes you smart (actually, that’s the fish oil, all explained by science)
- It’s bad luck to chase someone with a broom
- A sailor wearing an earring cannot drown
- Animals can talk at midnight on Christmas Eve
- Smell dandelions, wet the bed (LOL)
I guess, for me, part of it is like tradition, I learnt superstitions from my family before I learnt anything about science. It’s ingrained in me. I know it’s irrational, but it’s still there. It’s similar to what happens when I watch ghost movies – horror movies involving ghosts are my favourite kind because they scare me to death and while my brain tells me that it’s irrational to believe in ghosts, I can’t help it. And I thrive on the adrenalin boost watching one of those films.
On the technical side, this post gave me the opportunity to photograph another one of my favourite things and play with my 60mm macro lens (another favourite) some more. It was raining and close to dark when I took the photos in this post. Some of the shots were taken with a very slow shutter speed to get enough light in.
So tell me, what are your thoughts on superstition versus science? Can they coexist? What are some of your superstitions? Or do you have any relative or friends with some wild superstitions?