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“Superstitions: The Irrational Beliefs That Influence Our Behavior” by William Kelly Essay


In the article “Superstitions: The Irrational Beliefs That Influence Our Behavior” William Kelly argues that “Superstitions, irrational ideas or concepts related to good or bad fortune, play a larger role in the world around us than most people realize”. Kelly explains that superstition entails objects that are deemed to result in good luck, deeds that tend to inspire good luck or bad luck and actions that can lead to unpleasant fortune (182).

Kelly states that many people believe in good luck charms. Therefore, they have in the possession objects that allegedly provide them with protection. Some of these objects may include a specific lucky shirt that brings good fortune or a symbolic key chain.

In addition, other good luck charms are more traditional for instance, the foot of a rabbit or a clover with four leaves. Although this belief in good luck charm seems not to make sense, numerous people feel more protected and comfortable when they have good luck charms in their possession (Kelly and Lawton 183).

Apart from good luck charms, Kelly states that the performance of particular rituals is also believed to provide good luck. For instance, a player who plays basketball bounces the ball a specific number of times which eventually leads to a foul shot.

Moreover, baseball players while waiting for their match tend to adjust their gears in a particular order that is believed to bring good luck. Although these actions seem irrational, the players have a belief that good luck is in waiting (Kelly and Lawton 183).

William Kelly also explains how proverbs and sayings are part and parcel of superstition. The proverbs and sayings have been in use for a long time and they tend to influence the actions of people. The people believe that their actions may result to good or bad fortune. The author mentions that shattering a mirror is a sign of bad luck to come while tossing salt over the shoulders is believed to bring good luck.

Furthermore, other actions that bring bad luck include walking under a ladder, allowing a black cat to cross our paths and opening an umbrella inside the house. William Kelly confirms that there is no proof that these actions influence good or bad luck. Nevertheless, people still adhere to them in order to be on the safe side (Kelly and Lawton 183).

Many people pretend that superstitions do not matter to them. On the contrary, they believe and follow them closely in order to prevent bad luck from befalling them. People who strongly believe in superstitions tend to watch their actions and behaviors very closely. I agree with William Kelly when he said that superstition entails objects that bring good or bad luck, actions that cause bad luck and behaviors that influence both good luck and bad luck.

Some people strongly believe that certain objects bring good or bad luck. For instance, planting an umbrella tree in the compound is deemed to bring bad luck to the occupants of the house.

Moreover, being in possession of pig oil or pig bones in the house provides protection against evil spirits. In addition, when an owl perches itself on the roof top or on a nearby tree, it brings bad luck to the homestead. Therefore, it should be chased away by a flame lest it causes death in the family.

Other actions like looking in the mirror at night and dropping coins on the floor at night are believed to bring bad fortune to people. In addition, other deeds like calling out someone’s name while outside at night and sweeping dirt out of the house at night are also believed to bring bad luck.

Moreover, the kicking of objects while walking on the road is believed to cause bad luck. The objects are believed to be in the form of evil spirits. Therefore, kicking then will mean being haunted at night with the evil spirits.

On the other hand, certain behaviors also influence either bad or good luck. For instance, wearing a shirt inside out is believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits. This is especially applicable in small babies in order to protect them against the evil eyes of those who are not happy about the birth. It is also believed that when pig oil is applied to the baby’s skin, the baby will be protected against the evil eyes of jealous people.

It is evident in William Kelly’s article and the response that superstition revolves around three major aspects namely good luck charms, behaviors that influence good or bad luck and actions that lead to bad luck. These superstition aspects have been in existence from generation to generation.

Therefore they are likely to be passed even to future generations who will use them to feel comfortable and protected just like their ancestors did. It is difficult to comprehend why people strongly believe in superstitions. For whatever reasons, it is almost impossible to prevent people from following their beliefs. Therefore, criticizing them is pointless but wishing them good luck is the least people can do.

Works Cited

Kelly, William and Deborah Lawton. Superstition: The Irrational Beliefs That Influence Our Behavior. Addison-Wesley Longman, Incorporated, 2005.

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"“Superstitions: The Irrational Beliefs That Influence Our Behavior” by William Kelly." IvyPanda, 15 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/superstitions-the-irrational-beliefs-that-influence-our-behavior-by-william-kelly/.

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IvyPanda. "“Superstitions: The Irrational Beliefs That Influence Our Behavior” by William Kelly." March 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/superstitions-the-irrational-beliefs-that-influence-our-behavior-by-william-kelly/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "“Superstitions: The Irrational Beliefs That Influence Our Behavior” by William Kelly." March 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/superstitions-the-irrational-beliefs-that-influence-our-behavior-by-william-kelly/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '“Superstitions: The Irrational Beliefs That Influence Our Behavior” by William Kelly'. 15 March.

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