Belief is for most of us at the core of our very being. Even if we are neither religious nor particularly scientific, we generally cling to a few beliefs. Some may be ordinary every day rationalisations - we believe that the sun will come up tomorrow. Others may be more light hearted personal suspicions, such as wearing a particular pair of underpants when watching our favorite football team. Despite our national heritage of rationalism - expressed in the writings of the likes of John Locke, Adam Smith and David Hume - we are still in thrall to common superstition expressed daily in the pages of the press.
Some beliefs are felt more vociferously and can lead us into unusual mental territories. Talk of "tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists" is a regular tabloid meme, and yet one doesn't have to cast the net far to find ample public evidence that government and its agencies can and do conspire to keep secrets or cover up their own malfeasance.
Some bypass all of these matters and can be traced back to ancient folk beliefs. Even today, people salute magpies or (in the case of my own wife) will be enraged at the sight of shoes on a table.
The mental pathologies that lie behind these beliefs are sometimes simple, sometimes apocryphal and sometimes surprisingly poorly understood. Either way, there is scarcely a place or person in the country who doesn't possess some curious unexamined belief as part of their cultural framework.