Superstition: Belief in what
believers in it could know is not so.
superstition depends on what believers in it could know, if they had
taken the trouble: If there are no good - rational, empirical -
arguments against the belief, and emotional, cultural, religious,
political, moral or practical reasons for it, one cannot seriously blame
the believers in it.
But if there is good evidence against the belief, even
if the believer in the superstition is disinclined to get informed about
it, and the believer could reasonably know of this evidence (had he
tried to find out), then his belief is fairly called superstitious,
especially if such a belief, if acted upon, may harm people.
In fact, there is a lot of superstition, concerning many
subjects, varying from religion and politics to medicine - healthcare -
and psychology and related subjects.
Also, what one regards as superstition - a term normally
used with some disapprobation - as contrasted with insufficiently
well-founded belief may to some extent depend on taste, but there are
many superstitions (in witches, in the potency-improving powers of
rhino-horns, in miracle-cures by self-styled mediums etc.) that in this
day and age are plainly superstituous, and deserve to be called
Also, myself being an atheist, and being well-informed
as regards the scientific evidence, I hold that the Dutch 19th Century
writer Multatuli, a severe critic of religion of great sarcastic power,
was right in his saying that
"Religion is superstition"
(And please note, if you disagree, that I am not talking
about some sophisticated belief in the possibility that there may be
some deity, albeit one humans know and understand very little about, but
about the foundational texts of religions, such as the Bible and the
Koran: These cannot be true as stated in these books, for which reason
belief in their approximate truth must be classed as superstition.)