, Muskogee, OK


January 25, 2007

Leif Wright column: Dupe or no dupe?

Show exposes the superstition in nearly all of us

Would “Deal or No Deal” be as entertaining if we weren’t so superstitious?

Almost everyone claims to not be superstitious, because that, in their minds, identifies them as gullible or unscientific.

I even caught myself being superstitious while watching a Maria Sharapova tennis match the other day.

“I can’t watch,” I said to my companion. “Whenever I watch, she plays horribly.”

As if my watching somehow related to the play of the world’s best female tennis player.

Contestants on “Deal or No Deal” appear to be chosen for their predilection to superstition. I watched the other day when a woman literally squatted down to the floor, shouting “Low, low, low” as a model opened up a case to reveal a million-dollar missed opportunity.

“We have to get low, Howie,” the contestant told the show’s host, comedian Howie Mandell. “We have to get low because I want a low number.”

Professional baseball players are notoriously superstitious. Each has his own ritual before taking the field, pitching the ball or stepping up to the plate to take a swat.

Bingo players carry little dolls and talismans, hoping that the thingies on the table will give them good luck in playing the game.

We all seem programmed at least to some extent to believe that when good things happen, they happen because of something completely unrelated that we did. And if we could just do it again that same way, good things will continue to happen. If we could just figure out what it was that we did right the first time.

Psychic Sylvia Browne has made tons more wrong predictions than she has correct one (as you can see for yourself at, but people who want to believe continue to funnel millions of dollars to her in the absurd hope that she can really speak to the dead — a feat she clearly can’t do.

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