The April 21, 2008 issue of The New Yorker has an article by Nick Paumgarten about elevators, contained within which is this shocking revelation about the “door close” button (emphasis mine):
In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think it works. (It does work if, say, a fireman needs to take control. But you need a key, and a fire, to do that.) Once you know this, it can be illuminating to watch people compulsively press the door-close button. That the door eventually closes reinforces their belief in the button’s power. It’s a little like prayer.
It is not (too much of) an exaggeration to say that learning this has undermined my faith in, well, any number of things.