I am one of the least superstitious people you could ever meet, but I know plenty of people who are. Turns out, they are right and I am wrong. Superstitions actually work, in an odd sort of way.

Here's the research on that:

We've got the results of a study here that opens up a WHOLE NEW WORLD of superstitions.  Carry your rabbit's foot.  Always sit in the same spot on the couch when your team plays.  Persecute some witches.  IT'S ALL ON.

According to a new study out of the University of Chicago, when you knock on wood, it actually DOES prevent bad things from happening.

Well . . . sort of.  The researchers found when you knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder, or whatever, it GENUINELY makes you believe something bad is less likely to happen.

So while it doesn't necessarily stop bad luck, it makes you FEEL like you've stopped the bad luck . . . and keeps you from worrying as much.

There's another possible effect too.  By acknowledging possible bad luck, and taking a step to prevent it . . . even a superstitious step . . . you make yourself temporarily more ALERT and on the lookout for risks, which can help prevent them.