08 October 2008


I recently read The Loss of the S.S. Titanic, the titular disaster being one of my pet interests, and was startled to read the following passage:

Sailors are proverbially superstitious; far too many people are prone to follow their lead, or, indeed, the lead of any one who asserts a statement with an air of conviction and the opportunity of constant repetition; the sense of mystery that shrouds a prophetic utterance, particularly if it be an ominous one (for so constituted apparently is the human mind that it will receive the impress of an evil prophecy far more readily than it will that of a beneficent one, possibly through subservient fear to the thing it dreads, possibly through the degraded, morbid attraction which the sense of evil has for the innate evil in the human mind) leads many people to pay a certain respect to superstitious theories. Not that they wholly believe in them or would wish their dearest friends to know they ever gave them a second thought; but the feeling that other people do so and the half-conviction that there "may be something in it, after all" sways them into tacit obedience to the mostly absurd and childish theories.

This book was published in 1912 (the year of the disaster) by a science teacher, Lawrence Beesely. You can read it online for free at Project Gutenberg.

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