via Discovery News
- One study found that superstitions can sometimes work
- The make a wish on a turkey bone saying dates back to first-century Romans.
- The word friggatriskaidekaphobics describes those afraid of Friday the 13th.
If you are spooked by Friday the 13th, you’re in for a whammy of a year. And it would come as no surprise if many among us hold at least some fear of freaky Friday, as we humans are a superstitious lot.
Many superstitions stem from the same human trait that causes us to believe in monsters and ghosts: When our brains can’t explain something, we make stuff up. In fact, a 2010 study found that superstitions can sometimes work, because believing in something can improve performance on a task.
Here, then, are 13 of the most common superstitions.
13. Beginner’s luck
Usually grumbled by an expert who just lost a game to a novice, “beginner’s luck” is the idea that newbies are unusually likely to win when they try out a sport, game or activity for the first time.
Beginners might come out ahead in some cases because the novice is less stressed out about winning. Too much anxiety, after all, can hamper performance. Or it could just be a statistical fluke, especially in chance-based gambling games.
Or, like many superstitions, a belief in beginner’s luck might arise because of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a psychological phenomenon in which people are more likely to remember events that fit their worldview. If you believe you’re going to win because you’re a beginner, you’re more likely to remember all the times you were right — “and forget the times you ended up in last place.
12. Find a penny, pick it up . . .
And all day long, you’ll have good luck. This little ditty may arise because finding money is lucky in and of itself. But it might also be a spin-off of another old rhyme, “See a pin, pick it up/ and all day long you’ll have good luck/ See a pin, let it lay/ and your luck will pass y.”
11. Don’t walk under that ladder!
Frankly, this superstition is pretty practical. Who wants to be responsible for stumbling and knocking a carpenter off his perch? But one theory holds that this superstition arises from a Christian belief in the Holy Trinity: Since a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle, “breaking” that triangle was blasphemous.
Then again, another popular theory is that a fear of walking under a ladder has to do with its resemblance to a medieval gallows. We’re sticking with the safety-first explanation for this one.
10. Black cats crossing your path
As companion animals for humans for thousands of years, cats play all sorts of mythological roles. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered; today, Americans collectively keep more than 81 million cats as pets.
So why keep a black cat out of your path? Most likely, this superstition arises from old beliefs in witches and their animal familiars, which were often said to take the form of domestic animals like cats.
9. A rabbit’s foot will bring you luck
Talismans and amulets are a time-honored way of fending off evil; consider the crosses and garlic that are supposed to keep vampires at bay. Rabbit feet as talismans may hark back to early Celtic tribes in Britain. They may also arise from hoodoo, a form of African-American folk magic and superstition that blends Native American, European and African tradition. [Rumor or Reality: The Creatures of Cryptozoology]
8. Bad luck comes in threes
Remember confirmation bias? The belief that bad luck comes in threes is a classic example. A couple things go wrong, and believers may start to look for the next bit of bad luck. A lost shoe might be forgotten one day, but seen as the third in a series of bad breaks the next.
- Superstitious Beliefs Getting More Common (illuminutti.com)
- Psychics Boost Believers’ Sense of Control (illuminutti.com)
- Friday the 13th: Superstition, Magic and Mental Illness (livescience.com)
- Friday the 13th: the Top 10 Superstitions (gonedigging.co.uk)
- Superstition (ljanning11.wordpress.com)
- Today Is “Friday the 13th” : FACTS and MYTHS (darcxed.wordpress.com)
- Why Does Friday the 13th Scare Us So Much? (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- Superstitions and why you should (maybe) believe them (gentwenty.com)
- Bon Appetit: 21 Weird Food Superstitions (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bad-Luck Busters: Friday the 13th With an Anti-Superstition Society (life.time.com)
Could the world’s militaries really build lethal sonic weapons? Could infrasound really destroy a human being? How far away are we from the space-age sonic weapons of science fiction? Join Ben and Matt as they explore the rumors, fact and fiction surrounding the strange world of weaponized sound.
In the modern age, tales of mermaids fall under the same category as stories of minotaurs or dragons. Sure, they seem like neat ideas, but no one actually believes such creatures could exist. If that’s the case, then why have sailors across centuries reported seeing humanoid, aquatic creatures on the waves? Is there any grain of truth within the claims? Tune in to learn more about alleged mermaid sightings, the problem of evidence (or lack thereof) and more.
- Mermaid Sighting in Kiryat Yam: Real or Hoax? (wafflesatnoon.com)
- Discovery Documentary “Mermaids: The New Evidence” Proves Mermaids Are Real – Video (news.softpedia.com)
- Mermaids: The Body Found Documentary Still Fascinates (webpronews.com)
- Mermaids do Exist (oceanamermaid.wordpress.com)
- Real Mermaid Caught on Camera (Seen on Animal Planet) (disclose.tv)
- Where do mermaids come from? (georgiabluebooks.wordpress.com)
“The superstitious man is to the rogue what the slave is to the tyrant.” —Voltaire
A superstition is a false belief based on ignorance (e.g., if we don’t beat the drums during an eclipse, the evil demon won’t return the sun to the sky), fear of the unknown (e.g., if we don’t chop up this chicken in just the right way and burn it according to tradition while uttering just the right incantations then the rain won’t come and our crops won’t grow and we’ll starve), trust in magic (e.g., if I put spit or dirt on my beautiful child who has been praised, the effects of the evil eye will be averted), trust in chance (if I open this book randomly and let my finger fall to any word that word will guide my future actions), or some other false conception of causation (e.g., homeopathy, therapeutic touch, vitalism, creationism, or that I’ll have good luck if I carry a rabbit’s foot or bad luck if a black cat crosses my path).
The indiscriminate power of nature is obvious. For as long as humans have been making sounds and instruments, magical methods have been created in the attempt to control the forces of nature and the life and death matters of daily existence. Good and evil befall us without rhyme or reason. We imagine spirits or intelligible forces causing our good and bad fortune. We invent ways to placate them or direct them. Many of the superstitions we developed seemed to work because we didn’t know how to properly evaluate them. There are many instances of selective thinking that might lead to a superstitious belief that something is good or bad luck, for example. The “curse of Pele” exemplifies this kind of superstition. According to one website devoted to the legend of the Hawaiian goddess Pele:
It is well known to locals on the island of Hawaii, that there is a curse upon those who take one of Pele’s lava rocks. It is said that he who takes a lava rock, is taking something from Pele and shall receive bad luck because of it. In the old days people were said to die from the curse, but now you only receive bad luck.
Every day, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park receives several rocks from people who took them home from the park and are returning them because of the bad luck they’ve had since taking the rocks. Many of these people think there is a causal connection between their taking the rocks and their perceived bad luck because their bad luck came after they took the rocks. Of course, their perceived bad luck may have happened even if they hadn’t taken any rocks from the park. Or they may not have paid much attention to the “bad luck” had they not heard there was a curse associated with taking the rocks. Such people may . . .
MORE . . .
- Uri Geller (illuminutti.com)
- Reiki (illuminutti.com)
- Perfect Prediction Scam (illuminutti.com)
- Thoughtography (illuminutti.com)
- How Superstitions Really Work (creativitypost.com)
- On the Lighter Side: Top 10 Superstitions for New Home Buyers and New Home Owners (soundbuilthomes.wordpress.com)
- #homeopathy – The Skeptic’s Dictionary – Skepdic.com (matteorossinifano.wordpress.com)
- Super Bowl Superstitions or OCD? (abcnews.go.com)
- New Year’s Day Superstitions (nightcaptv.com)
- Do traditional Chinese death beliefs increase superstition and anxiety about death? (secularnewsdaily.com)