I am not known to be superstitious. I am not afraid when a black cat crosses my way, I don’t mind walking under a ladder, I do not throw salt over my left shoulder when I spill some of the same and I am certainly not bothered about Friday the 13th.
“A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.” — George Bernard Shaw
Nevertheless, I take people with superstitions seriously because I know that the fears or feelings they may have about certain things are very real – at least to them.
But let’s start with the allegedly unlucky number 13! Why has the number 13 been known for centuries to be “unlucky”? How is it possible that a number can cause so much fear and has so much meaning? Most Airplanes don’t have a 13th row, many buildings don’t have a 13th floor, and often hotels don’t have room number 13. Some people don’t travel on the 13th and if it falls on a Friday they don’t even leave the house and postpone their lives for a day out of fear that something could go wrong. There are several reasons why people believe that 13 is unlucky, stemming from religion to science. Those who are religious may associate 13 with the 13th individual who came to the last supper. Judas was the 13th person and the person who betrayed Jesus. It is likely that most people who believe this superstition grew up around other people who believe it as well. By hearing the message and association between bad luck and 13, people’s superstitions can develop even further. There is even such a thing as Triskaidekaphobia which is the fear of the number 13. Like many other phobias this in turn can lead to anxiety and other psychological effects.
The most notable influencer to the 13th belief in my opinion though is, as so often, the media. The media uses those outlets to its advantage. Just take the Friday The 13th film series. There have been 12 films in the series, a television series, novels, comic books, video games, merchandise, and with this millions of dollars off of a fear that they took to the next level. The result is the avoidance of this number on so many levels.
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” — Bertrand Russell
Personally, I find the belief that the number 13 is the cause of bad luck to be a superstition. But we should never forget that all superstitions thrive on confirmation bias. It becomes truly difficult to change your mind once you have this belief and your mind is set on a certain idea. It’s even harder because subconsciously we look for evidence and memories that support them rather than those that refute them. Days, when bad things happen, will just be unfortunate times but if something was to happen on the 13th day it’s because of the number 13. People with strong beliefs would most likely say that if it wasn’t for the association with 13 the bad thing wouldn’t have happened at all.
I believe the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (or frequency illusion) could even be applied here.
We’ve all been there one way or another. A friend is pregnant and suddenly you see pregnant women everywhere. There seems to almost be an invasion of pregnant women. Someone you know bought a certain car brand and suddenly the streets are flooded with this brand. It is similar to bad things happening on Friday the 13th. There is more media coverage or more people speak about what horrific things keep happening on Friday the 13th or are connected with this certain date. You may find yourself to be in the clutches of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or the perception of frequency. Essentially it’s the difference between something actually happening a lot and something you’re starting to detect a lot.
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or the Baader-Meinhof effect, is when your awareness of something increases. This leads you to believe it’s actually happening more, even if that’s not the case.
As it is a bit of a strange name for a phenomenon, here is just a brief explanation of the origins:
The Baader-Meinhof Gang, also known as Red Army Faction, is a West German terrorist group that was active in the 1970s.
It is rather strange how the name of a terrorist gang became attached to the concept of frequency illusion.
It appears that it was actually born of the phenomenon itself. It may go back to a discussion board in the mid-1990s, when someone became aware of the Baader-Meinhof gang, then heard several more mentions of it within a short period.
Lacking a better phrase to use, the concept simply became known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. And it stuck – simple as that!
“At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation and prejudice.” — Gore Vidal
Studies have actually shown that more car accidents happen on Friday the 13th than on other days, even on other days with the 13th. You could probably call it self-fulfilling prophecies, as driving with the fear that something bad could happen, will most likely attract something bad. You could also see it a bit like the Baader- Meinhof Phenomenon or the frequency illusion.
So no matter if you believe the number 13 or Friday the 13th to be unlucky or not, think of the times when you didn’t realise what day it was and when nothing bad happened.
🎶My Song of the Week
Is by a wonderful singer and songwriter, Jewel, whom I truly admire and love – You Were Meant For Me, in this fabulous live version that speaks to me deeply…
📚My Poem of the Week
Is a very short one by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
A Darting Fear
A darting fear—a pomp—a tear— A waking on a morn To find that what one waked for, Inhales the different dawn.
Just another beautiful winter impression from a few years ago
If you would like to connect with me, find out more about the Enneagram and yourself, and how it can transform you and your life, I would be happy to take the time for a speed coaching call that you can reserve right here, go to my website or simply hit reply and get in touch with me directly.
Wishing you a fabulous weekend and leave a ❤️ or a comment. I would love to hear your take on Friday the 13th and superstitions!