Ritual Questions

I just attended a university convocation (i.e., graduation ceremony), and noticed that people are comforted by its detailed ritual, with its specific standard dress, music, motions, and words. Which leads me to wonder: why don’t we have more rituals?  Why don’t we have as many as we used to? Most rituals we have seem to be left over from long ago: weddings, funerals, graduations, awards. But since rituals aren’t that expensive to create, why not just make more of them?

Workplaces have very few rituals it seems to me. An old-school workplace ritual we no longer use much is creating an insulting nickname for new workers. Being given such a nickname was an indication that you had been accepted by the group. Why don’t we do that anymore?

At that ceremony they announced dozens of particular awards that particular students had won. While the audience is supposed to be impressed by the fact that students had won prizes, I’ll bet there is no web page where I could find stats on the track record of previous award winners. Even if they posted winner names, it would take lots of research to find what had become of them later.  Surely no one in the audience had done that work, or had ever heard from anyone who had heard from anyone who had done such work. Winners will no doubt put these awards on their resumes, and resume readers are supposed to be impressed by such awards merely because the university chose to announce them at a ceremony. No other evidence than this mere fact will ever be presented.

Consider, in contrast, how high we set the standards for acceptable standardized tests, such as IQ tests. Unless someone can prove such tests aren’t biased toward the rich, etc. they are considered unacceptable. Why such a double standard?  Is this just another way we show our deference to arbitrary authority?

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