Folklore versus the Age of Aquarius

Posted on August 22, 2007

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There’s an important point that Dawkins’ documentary made me think about. In a previous post I discussed Roud’s claim that we are less superstitious. He essentially bases his claim on the fact that the number of traditional superstitions were know is dropping. The problem with this argument that is pointed out by the examples Dawkins looks at is that those old superstitions can be seen as being replaced by various New Age beliefs. Of course, these beliefs, themselves, are often based upon traditional beliefs but most often come from other cultures, primarily of Southern and Eastern Asia, and, therefore, would not be recognised by someone focussing upon the folklore of England and Ireland. Also, often these beliefs are phrased in pseudo-scientific terms making it harder to identify them as superstition. After all, what is the status of various claims about alien abductions and the practices linked to them? They have clear analogies to beliefs about succubi but do not necessarily involve clearly supernatural entities. As all too often, I am not sure what to think of this and am merely writing down questions.

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