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Good Luck and Bad Luck Superstitions
Napoleon feared black cats; Socrates feared the evil eye; Julius Caesar feared
dreams. Henry VIII claimed witchcraft trapped him into a marriage with Anne Boleyn.
Peter the Great was terrified of crossing bridges. Bad luck superstitions still keep many
people in different countries from walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors,
or planning activities for Friday the 13th.
Because of their irrational nature, superstitious beliefs should have disappeared
with the development of education and the progress of science. Yet, even today, most
people would admit to cherishing one or two superstitions such as seeing a symbol of
good luck, a wishbone, or a symbol of bad luck, a broken mirror. Nowadays, there seems
to be no logical reason for these superstitions.
1. At the beginning of the article the author mentions five great people.
a. Who are they?
1. ________________________________
2. ________________________________
3. ________________________________
4. ________________________________
5. ________________________________
b. What do they have in common?
They believed in ____________________________ (ONE – THREE words)
2. a. How many superstitions are mentioned in paragraphs 1-2? ______
b. Give TWO examples
3. Scientific and educational progress put an end to the belief in bad luck.
True / False
Support your answer by quoting from the text.
The origins of superstitions lie in earlier man's need to understand his world.
Primitive man was seeking explanations for natural phenomena such as lightning,
thunder, eclipses, birth and death. At the same time, he lacked knowledge of the laws of
nature so he developed a belief in spirits. He was sure that there is a miracle of a tree
sprouting from a seed, or a frog developing from a tadpole, that pointed to the influence
of these spirits. Primitive man's daily existence was full of hardships and evil. As a result,
he assumed that these spirits were more often cruel than kind.
What is the general point of paragraph 3?
What was the conclusion based on a primitive man’s daily life?
Complete the following sentences. Use ONE or TWO words in each space.
Since the primitive man needed to ________________________ his world, he was
looking for possible __________________ of _________________. He didn’t have
the _______________ of laws of nature. As a result he believed in _____________.
Our ancestors (forefathers) believed in miracles, in signs and wonders, eclipses and
comets, in the virtues of bones, and in the powers attributed to evil spirits. The world was
supposed to be full of magic; the spirits were sleight-of-hand performers -- magicians.
There were no natural causes for events. A devil wished, and it happened. Natural causes
were not believed in. Delusion and illusion, the monstrous and miraculous, ruled the world.
While our ancestors filled the darkness with evil spirits or enemies of mankind, they also
believed in the existence of good spirits. These good spirits protected the faithful from the
temptations and snares of the Satan.
Now we are convinced of what is called the "uniformity of nature." We believe that all
things act and are acted upon in accordance with their character. We believe that the
results will always be to a large extent the same if the conditions are the same.. A person
who can analyze, think, investigate and evaluate evidence cannot believe in signs. No
person can believe in lucky days or unlucky days, in lucky numbers or unlucky numbers. He
knows that Fridays and Thursdays are the same; that the number 13 is no more deadly
than the number 12.
Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll * once said: “Man should think; he should use all his
senses; he should examine; he should reason. The man who cannot think is less than man;
the man who will not think is traitor to himself; the man who fears to think is superstition's
[*Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll (August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899) was a Civil War veteran,
American political leader, and orator during the Golden Age of Freethought, is noted for his broad
range of culture and his defense of agnosticism.]
Bibliography/Works Cited: Wikipedia on Robert G. Ingersoll. Josh Sens, "Some
Don't Count on lucky", Via Magazine, January 2004.
7. What is the main idea of paragraph 4?
a. A devil ruled the ancient world.
b. There were no events that didn’t have natural; causes.
c. Spirits both protected and harmed our ancestors.
d. Good spirits ruled the ancient world.
8. Give the definition of the “uniformity of nature”.
9. What kind of man is NOT superstitions’ slave?
Choose ONE option from the list below.
a. if he believes only in evil spirits
b. if he believes only in good spirits
c. if the world rules him
d. if he follows his common sense
e. if he finds natural causes behind events