How Thinking in a Foreign Language Reduces Superstitious Belief

A new study shows that “magical thinking” can be reduced by presenting and processing information in a second language.

Photo: Ciocci via Flickr (flickr.com/photos/ciocci)

Superstition is everywhere in our modern lives. Each Friday the 13th, nearly a billion dollars in business is avoided because people are afraid that it will be bad luck to do it that day. In the United Kingdom, traffic accidents increase dramatically on the same day, despite less traffic overall. Even for those of us who consider ourselves rational people, the effects of superstition can still hinder us. We know we have nothing to fear, but fear it anyway.

Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

Why This Is the Most Important Joke John Cleese Has Ever Heard

John Cleese was in super sarcastic form during his recent Reddit AMA.

John Cleese as Basil Fawlty, Graffiti in Lisbon, Portugal.

Keep reading Show less
Culture & Religion

What Is the Most Popular Superstition in America?

Researchers find the most common superstitions in the United States, breaking them down by gender, age and part of the country.

Living in the most technologically and scientifically-minded society to date, many of us, reasonable people, still can’t help but succumb to superstitions in our daily lives. That’s just how our brains help us cope. This would be a strange world indeed if black cats really gained control over your destiny simply by crossing the road in front of you. Still, many would try to find a way around if a black cat showed up in their path. Just in case. 

Keep reading Show less
Personal Growth

NASA Updates Star Calendar, Upsets Astrologers with New Zodiac Sign

NASA's updated celestial observations have forced astrology enthusiasts to revise the 3,000 year-old zodiac calendar – but let it be known that NASA does not care.

Meet Ophiuchus, the alleged star jerk who has potentially shifted your zodiac sign. Luckily though, it won't change a thing. (Photo by © Stapleton Collection/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

A constellation is a largely vacuous concept. NASA defines it as “a group of stars that forms a particular shape in the sky and has been given a name.” In other words, a group of stars is a constellation merely because some people say it is. The members of the constellation need not share anything else in common.

Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science