People in Russia are turning to magic to cope with problems.

Why we turn to horoscopes and amulets

Vladimir Ruvinsky


Depressed and disoriented, Russians have abandoned reason for magical thinking, said Vladimir Ruvinsky. Over the past decade, as the economy stagnated and political protest was suppressed, ever more of us professed belief in “UFOs, sorcery, and clairvoyance.” More than one-third of Russians now think aliens have visited Earth. Even traditional religious belief is on the rise—sort of. Nearly 80 percent of Russians identify as Orthodox Christian, “but only 40 percent say they believe in God, and only 4 to 7 percent regularly attend church services.” Rather than true Christian belief, says pollster Lev Gudkov, Orthodoxy is a “paternoster against misfortunes, a certain insurance for the afterlife.” That same longing has fueled growth in the use of charms and talismans. Two-thirds of Russian women say they “turn for help to magicians, fortune-tellers, and psychics.” Analysts note that this superstitious behavior began with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has accelerated ever since. People felt adrift, and they longed for “help from external powers”—which also explains the hero worship of President Vladimir Putin. And our president encourages superstition, because it “squeezes out critical thinking.” A gullible populace is easy to rule.


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