As skeptics we work hard at discarding superstitions and rationalizing our behaviors. We abandon fantasies such as the tooth-fairy and ghosts in exchange for a rational outlook at a world that is surprisingly rich in its reality. We don’t need to avoid the black cat that crosses our path for we realize they need not be feared. The number 13 becomes nothing more than a bakers dozen to the skeptic. A broken mirror becomes pieces for a mosaic. A ladder can be walked under or used to rise above. Fear has been removed and understanding has taken its place. Life is fuller and a heck of a lot less scary when superstition is traded in for something better, reality.
However, there is one superstition (albeit no-so-scary activity) that it seems even skeptics have held on to. Whenever the birthday cake with the glowing candles is placed in front of us we blow out the candles, squeeze our eyes tight and we make a wish. The same thing happens if a coin is tossed into a fountain or the tiny seeds of a dandelion are blown into the wind. We wish upon stars. Well, technically we wish upon rocks hurtling through the atmosphere but you get the idea.
I like to think of a wish as hopeful optimism and perhaps a bit of consciousÂ goal fertilization. It is a ritual that is indeed superstitious in its origin but has endured as a tribute to our inherent hopefulness.
I picked this dandelion for you. What would you like to wish for today?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.