Move over, McDonalds! There’s a new worst slogan in the world.
Budweiser (a “beer” company) has a new ad campaign about sports superstitions. In a nutshell: sports superstitions (like sitting in your “lucky” chair) are funny, charming, and gosh darn it, might even be real! Budweiser’s tagline: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work”.
I disagree. It’s weird, period.
What’s more, it’s ignorant, embarrassing, and frankly makes me a little pessimistic about humanity. Do you really think that wearing that unwashed jersey will help your team win? If yes, then please, please unfriend me on Facebook. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.
Superstitions have always been a force for evil in the world. Yes, evil. Superstitions caused Aztecs to pull the beating hearts out of innocent people. Superstitions caused intelligent women to be burned at the stake as witches. Superstitions caused Okonkwo to kill his son Ikemefuna to appease the village elders. Superstitions put Galileo under house arrest, and drove Alan Turing to commit suicide, and prevent a sizeable number of otherwise educated adults from believing in the plain fact of man-made global warming.
Superstitions even keep a huge number of South Koreans from having fans in their bedrooms.
I’m not making this up. For some strange reason, many South Koreans think that a simple oscillating fan can kill you in your sleep. This, despite the fact that fan death has never happened in human history. And despite the fact that the rest of the entire world uses fans in their bedrooms to no ill effect.
But wait! you might say, in Korean I presume. People have been found dead with fans running nearby! The fans must have killed them! Case closed!
I’ll leave it to the reader to punch holes in that kind of “logic”.
You may have heard of the famous experiment in which B. F. Skinner discovered “superstition” in pigeons:
“Skinner placed a series of hungry pigeons in a cage attached to an automatic mechanism that delivered food to the pigeon ‘at regular intervals with no reference whatsoever to the bird’s behavior.’ He discovered that the pigeons associated the delivery of the food with whatever chance actions they had been performing as it was delivered, and that they subsequently continued to perform these same actions.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner#Superstitious_Pigeons]
Your team wins while you’re wearing that lucky shirt? The shirt must have done it! Of course, you should be ashamed of yourself. You’re not any smarter than a pigeon.
Carl Sagan wrote a book called “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”. The idea is that science, and only science, illuminates; there is no other way to learn anything about the world. The next time you’re around a “person” who exhibits superstitious nonsense around you, cough into your hand and say “Pigeon!” Don’t worry; they won’t know what you’re talking about. Like Giordano Bruno’s torturers, or the chicken-eater Wade Boggs, or the people who stoned Tessie Hutchinson, they have no idea what science is, or logic, or common sense. They won’t have heard of B. F. Skinner or Carl Sagan or Alan Turing or Giordano Bruno.
They will, however, be familiar with Budweiser “beer”.
And they’ll be enjoying it, pathetically, in the dark.