Is Being Rational Really Rational?

I’m a superstitious person.


I do acknowledge that superstitions are nonsense, but I can’t help caring about them. As long as I don’t cause inconvenience to others with my superstitions, I can do whatever I want, right?

Recently I’ve been reading some books on behavioral economics and they explain how human beings are not always “rational”, which made me think about my own actions as well.

For example, I pray every time I get on an airplane, although I am fully aware that praying will not actually prevent accidents. If accident happens, it’s not because I didn’t pray enough. If accident didn’t happen, it’s not because I had prayed. Another example is that I usually take my good-luck charm with me whenever I’m attending crucial events, such as going for a job interview. I owe the success to my good-luck charm, but if it fails I wouldn’t blame it, rather, I’d tell myself “without my good-luck charm, things could’ve been much worse!”

All these are pointless arguments, but it comforts me anyway…

We are now in the 21st Century, where people value “scientific explanation”. People regard truth in terms of scientific point of view, and anything related to supernaturalistic view is considered as “pseudo-science” : fake truth.

However, there was a time when supernaturalistic interpretations of the world were the core part in society. Some of them remain as cultural tradition, and are still practiced in many societies : Halloween, Day of the Dead in Mexico… etc. Back in those days when people sought supernaturalistic explanations, for example in middle age Europe where Roman Catholic Church had an absolute power, what we call nowadays “science” appeared rather “fake truth”, because most of the time it went against what the Catholic Church believed and taught.

What we think as truth (science) was once fake, and what we think as fake truth (superstitions) was once the pure truth.

In some societies or among many people, superstitions are still rigidly believed (including myself… sometimes). What I’d like to point out, is that the notion of truth changes through time and differs in each society. Only because we happen to be living in an era that worships “science”, it could someday be reversed. It sounds absolutely insane, but so did science in middle age Europe.

Our values, beliefs and even truths are not definite. There might be no such thing as truth. It may be all about what glasses you put to see the world… We are currently wearing scientific glasses, but that does not mean it is the ONLY world we can see.

My friends often call me irrational for believing in superstitions ; but what is rationality anyway? If being rational means believing solely in scientific truth, yes I am irrational. However as I said, truth has never been solid (at least up until now), it is a matter of where to base rationality on ; it is now on science, it was once on supernatural beliefs.

So… what is truth, if it does exist? I have no clue. Meanwhile I keep switching my glasses between scientific ones and superstitious ones to enjoy two versions of the world. I may not be a rational being, but I am a human being.

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