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Superstition is a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason, knowledge, or experience. The word is often used pejoratively to refer to folk beliefs deemed irrational. This leadsto some superstitions being called "old wives' tales". It is also commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy and spiritual beings, particularly the irrational belief thatfuture events can be foretold by specific unrelated prior events.
The etymology is from the classical Latin ‘superstitio’, literally "a standing over", hence: "amazement, wonder, dread, especially ofthe divine or supernatural" The word is attested in the 1st century BC, notably in Livy and Ovid, in the meaning of an unreasonable or excessive belief in fear or magic, especially foreign orfantastical ideas. Cicero, however, derives the term from the phrase "...superstites essent, superstitiosi sunt appellati": parents indulging in excessive prayer and sacrifice hoping that their children wouldbe survivors, are called superstitious. By the 1st century AD, it came to refer to "religious awe, sanctity; a religious rite" more generally.
To European medieval scholars the word was applied toany beliefs outside of or in opposition to Christianity; today it is applied to conceptions without foundation in, or in contravention of, scientific and logical knowledge. Many extant westernsuperstitions are said to have originated during the plagues that swept through Europe.
In keeping with the Latin etymology of the word, religious believers have often seen other religions as superstition.Likewise, atheists and agnostics may regard any religious belief as superstition.
Religious practices are most likely to be labeled "superstitious" by outsiders when they include belief inextraordinary events, an afterlife, supernatural interventions, apparitions or the efficacy of prayer, charms, incantations, the meaningfulness of omens, and prognostications.
Greek and Roman pagans, who...
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