Casual Superstition

This news item caught my eye because it’s a “news of the weird” type of story:

NEW YORK — A New York City man who plunged 40 stories from the rooftop of an apartment building has survived after crashing onto a parked car.

But then there was this bit:

The car’s owner, Guy McCormack, of Old Bridge, N.J., told the Daily News he’s convinced that rosary beads he kept inside the Dodge saved Magill’s life.

Can we please stop lending credibility to such obvious superstitious nonsense by repeating it uncritically?

If the car’s owner had attributed the man’s survival to a statuette of Ganesh on his dash, or a voodoo amulet, or a lucky Mickey Mantle rookie card, would it be taken as seriously? If not, then why are magic beads more plausible?

ObPunchline: You’re a mean drunk, Superman.

3 thoughts on “Casual Superstition”

  1. While I agree that Christianity gets extra nice treatment in the press preferentially, I’d have attributed just as much credibility to those other things. I’d take that as the color quote which says more about the speaker than the likelihood of that event. Then again, I’m also not Christian. How would you have parsed it if the reporter *had* quoted the guy attributing it to Mickey Mantle? [grin] Just as funny here.


  2. Raven:
    Upon reflection, you’re probably right. And yeah, if the baseball card comment were the extent of what the car driver told the reporter, the story probably should’ve been written the same way.

    But of course, a lot of readers would see a huge difference between a rosary and a lucky card.


  3. I’m Christian, and I don’t attribute the guy’s survival to somebody’s rosary beads. Then again, I’m not Catholic; I don’t use rosaries. And I’m that rare specimen of a Christian who is also a skeptic, so I tend not to look for evidence of miracles. Funny thing about evidence of miracles; it always seems to be exactly where you look for it — if you’re looking to prove your faith rather than to test it, a distinction which is lost on most religious people, and probably most people in general, actually.

    I wouldn’t be too terribly surprised to find somebody who would attribute good luck to a Mickey Mantle card, and then staunchly refuse to sell it, no matter what, because it is now a good luck charm. The current Air & Space Magazine has an article about the weird superstitions that many pilots have had through the years. Though not associated with any religion (or, in many cases, anything apparent to anyone besides the pilot), they really believe in them. And I took them the same way Raven described above. It adds a bit of color to the article, by letting us see some of the car owner’s personality.


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