Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Superstition Works

Good-luck socks, numbers, and stars: Magical thinking remains popular across cultures and professions.  
In May 1988, Donald Regan, former White House Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan, released his memoirs to a flood of publicity. His insider’s view of the presidency revealed that, over a seven-year period, First Lady Nancy Reagan had employed an astrologer to advise her on a wide range of topics, many of which bore directly on the affairs of state. 


According to Regan, "Virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House Chief of Staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise." He claimed that Mrs. Reagan "insisted on being consulted on the timing of every Presidential appearance and action so that she could consult her Friend in San Francisco about the astrological factor."  

Suggestions that certain days were "bad" for the president led to the cancellation of speeches and press conferences and, on occasion, the curtailment of all travel for days at a time. Regan never discussed the issue with the president, so he was uncertain whether Mr. Reagan knew the extent to which his administration had been controlled by the alignment of the stars.

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