It is common for societies to have their own superstitions. In the West, walking under a ladder while eating at a table or passing a salt shaker from one hand to another is considered a sign of bad luck for people, which can trigger a chain of tragic events.
Although science has not been able to verify whether or not these factors influence destiny, analyzes have been made to find out the reasons behind these beliefs. One of them explained about the myths associated with the number 13 and why it is considered a health hazard today.
Barry Markowski, a sociologist at the University of South Carolina, wrote in an article for The Conversation that “Of course bad things sometimes happen on Friday the 13th, but there is no evidence that they happen disproportionately. ” year.
Despite this, Americans tend to play it safe when it comes to avoiding numbers at all costs. A Gallup poll revealed that, paradoxically, 13% said they felt nervous when given a room on the 13th floor of a hotel, while elevator company Otis Elevator Company detailed that six out of seven buildings Let’s leave the 13th floor. Its numbers, to go straight from 12 to 14.
But what are the motives behind this superstition? How does it affect society? This was stated by Markovsky, an academician specializing in group processes.
A University of South Carolina professor quotes researcher Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, an organization dedicated to studying paranormal phenomena, to explain that historically 12 has been considered a number of “integrity”. .
That association is justified by factors such as the fact that the year has 12 months, the signs of the zodiac, the gods of Olympus and the apostles of Jesus, among other episodes in which it is present.
On the other hand, 13 is interpreted as an imbalance and relates to characters such as Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ and was the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper. Similarly, Loki was the thirteenth to arrive at a festival in Valhalla, later to kill Baldur.
Markowski emphasizes that any number can be associated with a superstition of good or bad luck, depending on the culture where the believer lives.
The academic wrote in his article, “When conditions are favorable, a rumor or superstition generates its own social reality, snowballing like an urban legend, rolling down the hill of time.” In China, while for Christians it is associated with Satanism.
For Markowski, the beliefs surrounding these superstitions have their origins on both a cultural and personal level. However the environment in which we operate situations, how we perceive reality, experiences also affect that perception. For example, a bad experience during a specific childhood date can lead to a feeling that that particular day is unlucky.
To this is added that there are numbers that are less common in our daily lives, which will lead to more rejection. Among them, there is 13, which appears to be shorter than others such as 12, for both the number of months of the year and the general measure of when the product is sold.
In the words of the expert, “We tend to favor what we know and reject what is not. This makes it easy to associate 13 with negative qualities.” “Nevertheless, when people seek confirmation of their beliefs, they are prone to infer associations between unrelated factors,” Markowski stresses.