The main difference between taboo and superstition is that superstition is a belief that is based on neither logical reasoning nor scientific knowledge, while a taboo is an unexpressed prohibition on something.
We come across both taboos and superstitions virtually in any society. A taboo can originate as a result of a cultural sense that it is extremely offensive or extremely scary for ordinary people.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Taboo
– Definition, Features
2. What is Superstition
– Definition, Features
3. Similarities – Taboo and Superstition
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Taboo and Superstition
– Comparison of Key Differences
What is Taboo
A taboo is basically the prohibition of an action or an expression believing that it is extremely scary, too dangerous, accursed, or even consecrated for ordinary people to tackle. The terminology “taboo” has a Polynesian origin. Captain James Cook, after one of his visits to Tonga, introduced this term to the English language. Taboos were initially associated with Polynesian cultures. However, we come across taboos in almost every community or in any culture today.
With time, cultural and social shifts take place, and as a result of that, new taboos come to existence: bans on slavery, prohibition of alcohol, or tobacco consumption are some examples.
In the world-famous Harry Potter series, the name of the main antagonist, “Lord Voldemort,” is a taboo term. He is so dangerous in the world of wizards that most of the characters avoid referring to him as “Lord Voldemort.” Whenever they are referring to him, they use monikers such as “the Dark Lord,” “He Who Must Not Be Named,” and “You-Know-Who.”
What is Superstition
The term superstition refers to any human belief that originates as a result of fear or ignorance. Therefore, superstitious beliefs cannot be justified by laws of science or rational and logical arguments. In brief, superstition most frequently includes human faith in magic, omens, charms, supernatural events or elements, etc.
For instance, in China, the idea of superstition is specifically associated with humans’ irrational trust in superstitious phenomena and methods such as fortune-telling, ghosts, and gods, divination, and astrology. Most importantly, the power of superstition on any society lies in its followers’ irrational attitudes towards these methods and phenomena.
However, it is a socially accepted fact that if any social group is extremely blindfolded by superstitious beliefs, it hinders the development of science and technology. This is because followers do not obey the law and act in a way that even results in damage to human life and property. Therefore, governments and societies themselves must take action to prevent superstition from branching excessively inside any society.
Similarities Between Taboo and Superstition
- Taboo and superstitions can be socially or culturally constructed phenomena.
- Both taboos and superstitious beliefs are subject to change with time.
- Ancestors created both taboos and superstitious beliefs to establish the moral order in a particular society.
Difference Between Taboo and Superstition
A superstition is a belief based on neither logical reasoning nor scientific knowledge, while taboo is an unexpressed prohibition on something.
A taboo usually originates based on a cultural sense, whereas a superstitious belief originates as a result of human faith and unreasoning.
The main difference between taboo and superstition is that a taboo is an unexpressed prohibition on something, whereas a superstition is a belief that is made neither based on logical reasoning nor scientific knowledge. Our ancestors created taboos and superstitions, initially believing that gods morally approved and disapproved certain things. However, in any culture, neither taboos nor superstitious beliefs are not in any laws; instead, they are prevalent in tradition.
1. “Superstition.” An Overview | ScienceDirect Topics.