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06 June 2016

Bud Light Crafts a Theory of Religion

21% sports fans perform a ritual before or while watching their favorite team (source). Of course, such rituals have absolutely no affect on the outcome of these events. That argument is unlikely to dissuade any of these devoted fans, though. As we try to understand these practices, I think it's important to draw a formal distinction between superstition and ritual. The former is quite pragmatic, an expectation of a causal connection between behavior A (e.g. sitting in the same seat) and outcome B (e.g. your team winning). The latter, however, is much less utilitarian. Rituals proper rarely are expected to culminate in concrete material results. Take for example the Eucharist. Most Christian denominations practice the ritualistic communal meal, but few of them believe that it is anything but a symbolic reminder of a shared set of beliefs. Of course, the symbolic nature has both social and psychic consequences but not material.

There's a series of Bud Light ads that played on these superstitions:

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