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Why do we knock on wood? Why can't you open an umbrella indoors? Why do elevators skip the 13th floor? In the infamous words of Michael Scott à la The Office, "We're not superstitious, but we're a little sticious", and with that, we really want to know the origin behind these seemingly crazy things.
As it turns out, the explanation is a lot more scientific than you'd think — considering none of these superstitions are remotely based on fact. In the video below, Tech Insider explains not only the history behind these popular beliefs, but why humans are so susceptible to this kind of thought. Don't worry, you're not the only grown man in the world who refuses to step on the cracks in the sidewalk in fear of breaking your mother's back.
Man, we had no idea that the origin of "knock on wood" came from an old Pagan belief that spirits live in trees. When you put it that way, it does sound pretty freakin' ridiculous. We're not going to stop doing it or anything, but, hey! At least we recognize the hilarity. Beyond the religious anchoring of these superstitions, "magical thinking" expert, Phillips Stevens made it clear that there are three universal principles involved.
To reiterate what the video was saying, the first is a belief in a higher power, the second is the principle of similarity and the third is contact, or contagion. Personally, we find the final principle to be the most interesting. As humans, we generally don't recognize inanimate as having control or power, yet we still believe that if an umbrella is exposed to a storm (a bad thing) that we can spread that energy by opening the umbrella indoors. Riddle us that, will you please?
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