Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Our Gods take plastic

Appeasing the Gods, With Insurance

This NY Times article explores how even the most ratinal among us emply 'magical thinking' to insure a good outcome, much like the Ancient Greeks tried to appease their gods through sacrafice:

...We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods...“It is an irony of the post-Enlightenment world...that so many people who don’t believe in fate refuse to tempt it...”

I've commented before how even scientists believe in luck and rely on 'gut feelings'. But I never envisioned insurance policies as protective talismans, but it seems some people do:

...Even people who consciously reject superstitions seem to have these gut feelings, says Orit Tykocinski, a professor of psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel. She found that rationalists were just as likely as superstitious people to believe that insurance would ward off accidents...So when we think about passing up flight insurance, we conjure up disaster just as easily as ancient Greeks imagined a thunderbolt from Olympus...


Yvonne said...

There's some really interesting research by a psychologist Richard Wiseman, detailed in his book The Luck Factor, which explains how luck works in a scientific way.

genexs said...

hi Yvonne:

Thanx for your comment and the suggested reading. In "Deep Survival" a book by L. Gonzales about surviving catastrophe, it is pointed out that people with spiritual beliefs tend to do better than those without such beliefs. There's much info out there that contradicts the 'magical thinking' framing of the 'A' crowd.
Being able to listen to intuition or gut feelings, or even taking comfort in 'higher powers' seems to impart a survival value.