June 18, 2012
In a recent poll, 4000 people were asked if they would walk under a ladder and 49 percent said they wouldn't. While a separate poll concluded 86 percent regularly practice superstitious behavior like crossing fingers or carrying a lucky charm.
I know I'm doing my part in keeping the averages up. However, one must ask, why do seemingly "normal" people act like this. Since, in giving in to superstitions, we are reinforcing a belief that the dictionary says results from ignorance.
Are you thinking you're immune? Every time you say, "Bless you" you are following a belief that began during the plagues. According to legend, Saint Gregory ordered people to say "God bless you" when somebody sneezed to prevent the spread of the disease.
And since we haven’t had any plagues in the world for a while, it seems to be working. Keep up the good work.
Triskaidekaphobia is a fear of the number 13. A specific fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia that could, in itself, prompt a fear of syllables. It all comes down to the fact there were 13 people at the Last Supper. Some cities skip 13th Ave., but not Sacramento, with an intersection where 13th Street crosses 13th Avenue. You won't catch me there.
"Black cats creep across my path until I'm almost mad...I must have roused the Devil's wrath 'cause all my luck is bad." So, one of my favorite Matt Dennis standards begins.
About 400 years ago, after Charles the First's beloved black cat unexpectedly died, he proclaimed, (so the story goes) "Alas my luck is gone." True enough, he was arrested the next day, charged with high treason and later executed.
(I’ve checked; you can’t get bad luck from a photograph.)
Don't ask me why, but the white cat in England is considered unlucky, while the black brings good fortune, (to everyone except Charles) except in East Yorkshire, where it is lucky to own a black cat but unlucky to come across one.
Wherever you are, do check the cat luck "laws" in your area.
A cracked mirror? Why get rational now. Don't panic about this "window to your soul" business. The good news is you can reverse the curse.
Experts can't agree why the rabbit's foot means good luck, (although not for the rabbit). Do brush up on which pocket to carry it. Don’t forget to pack some garlic to protect you from evil spirits and vampires.
This entire subject seemed to have undone B.F. Skinner, who examined the formation of superstitions by experimenting on pigeons. It all somehow convinced him that humans believe they can influence events by a means of "adventitious reinforcement." If you pick up a lucky penny or let a cricket loose in your house and something good happens, it makes you a believer.
Recent research indicates beliefs like wearing "lucky" socks, counting magpies, carrying an acorn, all reflect a need for control, according to professor Adam Galinksy. "Even if it's imaginary control," chimes in co-researcher Jennifer Whitson of the University of Texas at Austin.
Prevailing thought indicates superstitions originated long ago to make some sense of the inexplicable forces of nature around us.
Seems it's still inexplicable. However, I'm hoping not to you. I just knocked on wood so I know we're going to have a fruitful discussion.