There are many ways to be superstitious. Actually, there are many degrees to being superstitious. The lowest level of it, is trivial.
If you are a cricket fan, especially in India, you will know what I mean. Folks sit in a particular position for the entire duration of the match, lest we lose a wicket. Some of them only listen to the commentary, do not watch the match. There are a million more; all of them quirky.
Then comes the next degree, the personal. They aren’t trivial, but are rooted in long-term observation or experience. Empirical. These are the kind that tend to affect our lives (in a rather far-reaching way, than the result of a cricket match). These are personal, in the sense that these superstitions only affect us and the result is experienced in a very personal way.
Finally there are the global ones. Walking under the ladder, breaking of a mirror, and such. There is no value in the superstition, except that it has been handed down from generations and we accept them for their sake.
And that’s how superstition propagates. From the trivial, to the personal to the global. The trivial ones are easily discarded, for they are temporary. There is a comic element to them, and should be treated as such. The global ones, we just have to deny, for we can find no rational basis in them.
The difficult ones to deal with, and the critical ones — are the personal superstitions. They hold within them the potential to become global, because we often tend to prove with “data” how real they are. Yet we cannot deny our own experience. Especially when it is repeated. The key, perhaps, is to not allow an experience (or experiences) to turn into belief. That’s where the rational mind shuts down.
And when we need its faculty the most, it may not be available to us.