The grip superstition has on our lives

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iol scitech march 31 believe Believe, a TV series about a young girl with mysterious powers.

London - If you believe in ghosts, panic when you break a mirror and would rather walk on to the road than under a ladder, you are not alone.

In fact, Britons are more likely to have faith in the supernatural than in God, a survey has found.

It showed more than half give credence to the supernatural and superstition – compared with just 49 percent who believe in God.

Similarly, more people believe they have extraordinary powers such as a sixth sense than regularly go to church.

Market researchers One Poll asked 2 000 adults a series of questions about their beliefs and weighted the results to make them reflect the population as a whole.

This revealed that 55 percent of us put our faith in the supernatural and superstition, and 10 percent even claim to have at least one supernatural power. Some 29 percent of these gifted souls believe they can see into the future, while 25 percent say they can regress to past lives and 23 percent claim to be telepathic.

In contrast, just eight percent attend a church or other place of worship at least once a week.

The survey also provided a fascinating insight into the grip that superstition has on our lives.

A third of Britons consider themselves superstitious, with walking under a ladder most likely to be linked with bad luck.

Breaking a mirror bringing seven years of misfortune is the second most commonly held superstition, with the ritual of touching wood for luck taking third place.

Fourth is the worry that opening an umbrella indoors is unlucky and fifth place goes to the fear that putting new shoes on the table brings bad luck.

Many also believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky, that burning ears mean you’re being talked about and that if you spill salt, you must throw a pinch over your shoulder to counteract bad luck.

The idea that a groom shouldn’t see his bride in her dress before their wedding is also pervasive. There is, however, room for one positive ritual.

Some 17 percent of us put stock in the saying “find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck”.

The survey – carried out to mark the UKTV premiere of Believe, a TV series about a young girl with mysterious powers – also showed that more people believe in ghosts than any other supernatural or unexplained phenomenon, with a third of us convinced that spooks and spectres exist.

This is closely followed by belief in the existence of a sixth sense and of UFOs. Some have had a close encounter themselves, while others have been influenced by friends, films or celebrities. And one in 25 spends more than £100 (about R 1 800) a year on tarot card readers and other psychics.

Dr Giles Fraser, former canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, said he finds it amusing that those who fervently reject religion are often the most avid followers of superstition.

He said: “It is certainly the case that all sorts of people who are uber-rational when it comes to God believe in the most amazing hocus-pocus.” - Daily Mail

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