fear inspiration judgement skepticism society

Grandma and the Big Oak Tree

My grandmother was a very superstitious lady, black cats, ladders, salt over the shoulder, and all of that. I remember once, walking across the yard with her and my mother. We lived in a small town and had walked to the hair salon to get Grandma’s hair fixed. On the way back into the yard I parted ways and ran ahead. I had been warned previously by my mom and knew that Grandma had very superstitious ways, but I was an irreverent child to these superstitions at that time. I ran to the right of the big oak tree while Mom and Grandma were walking around the left. The two women stopped. Mom looked at me and told me to get back around with them. Grandma was very serious about this walking stuff. After much stalling, I started walking forward towards them. And I was chided more. I skulked back around the tree. I made it obvious that I thought they were stupid and rejoined my mom and my grandma who greeted me with a big approving smile. Lesson learned. Do not provoke Grandma.

Somewhere in the middle of the silliness, there was a nagging doubt. What if these things mattered. That little doubt has stuck with me most of my life. I was around 10 or so at that time. Church and all the spirit woo-woo added to the accumulation of cause and effect evidence. So until this day I still get that nagging feeling, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, or may I should have said or done something else. And, I wonder, is any of this true? What if I could toss all of this stuff in the trash? Life would seem so much freer.

It made me believe that everything that exists was caused by another thing. Cause and effect. Or also called the Rooster Syndrome:

The rooster crows and the sun rises: cause and effect, or red flag?

If I tripped and fell it’s because I wasn’t paying attention. So I could prevent the fall by paying closer attention and clearing my path. You can see this if you look at my life. I was always a very attentive person. And yet somehow I’ve had similar incidences as those that haven’t been as careful. I’ve been attentive and fallen. I’ve been attentive and broken my arm. It’s all just superstition in some form or another. Live and let it all happen as it will, because some things can’t be prevented.

To quote Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory:

Sheldon (on phone): Oh, hi mom. … The Arctic expedition was a remarkable success, I’m all but certain there’s a Nobel Prize in my future. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I’m entirely certain. No, mother, I could not feel your church group praying for my safety. The fact that I’m home safe is not proof that it worked, that logic is Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. No, I’m not sassing you in Eskimo talk. – “The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation”, The Big Bang Theory

Do your work as best you can and be kind.

 

 

3 comments

  1. Back here again (yes, some people DO click the links left at the bottom of posts ::grin::).

    Cause and effect has always been a puzzling theme in my life as well – and 10 is about the age I was when I first became aware of a question that would stay with me my entire life: what is causative and what is simply the co-occurrence of coincidence?

    What is superstition, cognitive bias, folk-wisdom, yet unproven science – how do people tell? How can *I* tell? How am I to develop the principles that will guide the behaviors that will shape my life?

    I wish I could say that I have found peace with these questions that nag at me sometimes – or that I don’t look with something akin to envy at people who seem untroubled by thoughts beyond pragmatics. That’s why I read, I suppose (and blog) – it lets me know that I am not alone in my thinking. Some days it helps.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Like

    1. “What is superstition, cognitive bias, folk-wisdom, yet unproven science – how do people tell? How can *I* tell? How am I to develop the principles that will guide the behaviors that will shape my life?”
      The only way I know is to expose myself to other ideas, as many as I can handle, although there is a limit to how much I can handle of that.

      Like

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