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Superstition in spaceflight

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posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 07:51 AM
I found this interesting and entertaining article in "The Space Review" a site with essays and commentaries about space exploration:

The losing hand: tradition and superstition in spaceflight

It may seem incredible that in the world of manned spaceflight, of high-tech mission control and protocols for everything, there is a body of folklore, superstition, and tradition that is followed by each and every crewmember as if performing a sacred rite. Invocation of spirits of the dead, holy water, lucky card games, talismans, ritual words to be uttered at certain times—it reads like the initiation into some secret lodge.

Link to full article :


posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 09:48 AM
That's a fun article...thanks for posting it.

It doesn't really surprise me that astronauts have these superstitions -- these superstitions are the "traditions" that bind them together as a group.

The article spoke of "corps spirit" and how astronauts and cosmonauts seek to identify themselves with the pride of being part of a small elite group by practicing rites and rituals that are unique to that group.

These rites and rituals is what binds these people together, just like any cultural or religious group. I'm a Greek-American, which in some places is a very close-knit group. We have our own quirky traditions that some may call "superstitious" -- but those traditions is what can identify us as a unique group. Another example is the Jewish religion, which makes a big deal of "Traditions!" (just see Fiddler on the Roof for examples of this).

Other examples of seemingly odd superstitions practiced by modern groups: Serious Shakespearean actors consider it bad luck to refer to the play MacBeth by name; they instead call it "that Scottish play"; and NHL hockey players who just won their divsion championship never touch the trophy given out for that divsional championship because the only trophy worth touching is the "Stanley Cup", which is given to the chamion of the entire NHL.

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