Scientists Believe Superstition’s Bred in the Womb

I Believe They Need to Check Themselves

Superstitious knick knacks clutter your cupboard? Your fingers may be why… so if you know this, you can avoid needing payday loans to fuel such an intuitive compulsion. (Photo:

Superstitious knick knacks clutter your cupboard? Your fingers may be why… so if you know this, you can avoid needing payday loans to fuel such an intuitive compulsion. (Photo:

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way

– Stevie Wonder, “Superstition”

Psychologists have sought answers for some time as to why people believe in superstitious things and paranormal phenomenon. According to University of Helsinki psychologists Kia Aarnio and Marjaana Lindeman in an article entitled “The Origin of Superstition, Magical Thinking and Paranormal Beliefs: An Integrative Model,” “explanations have ranged from personality traits, psychological motivation, and flawed cognition, to emotional instability, demographics, and social influences.” That’s an awfully broad net to cast, but I’d tend to place the most stock in the social influences aspect. However, from the same pseudo-science (funded by payday loans rather than academic grants?) that brought you the digit ratio theory that supposedly enables you to tell if someone will be predisposed toward homosexual orientation based upon how long their index and ring fingers are in relation to each other comes… something rather disappointing.

Superstition is in the Fingers and Hormones?

According to author Martin Voracek, whether or not someone will be predisposed to believe in the fantastic and the paranormal may be determined before they even hear their first ghost story. It may be set in the womb, relegating those with increased intuitive thinking and decreased analytical thinking into following in Fox Mulder’s footsteps.

Stereotypically, Women Show the Intuitive Trait

Is this a disguised way for the old-boy scientific community to throw age-old “weaker sex” put-down around? Or is this based on solid scientific ground? Voracek is convinced that “there are biologically based, prenatally programmed influences on paranormal and superstitious beliefs.” It just so happens that one of the same indicators for superstition – that digit ratio thing – also connects to the homosexuality theory.  Voracek bases his findings on a survey of 1,118 Austrians, both men and women, who ranged from 17 to 72 years old.

Surveyed for Belief

Voracek questioned subjects regarding their position on all sorts of supernatural beliefs and phenomenon. Then data was collected on weight and length at birth, current age, education level and current height and weight. Inevitably, the digit ratio check came into play as well. While certain hormones do affect growth and proportions, it’s hardly a universal determinant. According to Discovery, “Men tend to have ring fingers that are slightly longer than their index fingers. In women, these fingers are usually about the same length, or the index digit is slightly longer.”

What Hormone are We Talking About?

For the sake or argument, let’s see. Oh, it appears that androgen exposure is involved. If the traditionally female sex hormones are more dominant, then I suppose you will chase Bigfoot the rest of your life. Just accept it, grow a mullet and live out of an RV.

What Voracek believes he’s found tends to follow conclusions Aarnio and Lindeman tended to arrive at:

Shorter feminized digit ratios in women also correlated with a greater likelihood of superstitious beliefs, as did a woman’s lighter weight at birth. For both sexes, shorter body length at birth was associated with later beliefs in superstitions and the paranormal.

Jock Scientists Taunting Nerd Scientists?

What is this, really? It sounds to me like yet another way to attempt to marginalize a minority group. If men or women have the wrong length of finger and want to do something about it, perhaps their innate belief in telekinesis can be used to create a psychic knife (a la Sylar in “Heroes”) and trim the digits down to size. Seriously, though, you should never actually try to do something like that. You’d injure yourself severely and find out that payday loans are in your future to help take care of the hospital bills. Of course if you believe in or actually are clairvoyant, you already knew that.

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