Unlucky For Some? It’s Friday 13th

As much as I’d love to just type out the entirety of Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ here, the trolling would be counter intuitive considering the message of Teen Skepchick. After all, that would be just one more incidence of Friday the 13th bringing forth horrors that could be added to the believer’s notebook. In any case, be prepared to emerge into a day that’s significance has been blown out of all proportion, and when you’re done with swimming in a sea of unfounded paranoia, let me dry that woo away with the towel of reality. That’s a terrible enough metaphor to start off this post right? Good, there’s more after the jump.

Humans attach a lot of meaning to certain numbers, and the number 13 is probably the most prolific of those. Sure, numbers do great things for us, after all they give us a format with which to understand our universe through mathematics and physics, but some people tend to see that significance and draw other, more dubious conclusions from those universal symbols.

The number 13 itself, as we all know, is associated with ‘bad luck’, a concept that it shares with other wonderful things such as black cats and walking under ladders; the difference is that both of the latter could possibly be harmful. If that black cat had learned that humans taste even better than tuna and had mastered the attacking style of its larger cousins it might pose enough of a threat to warrant humans leaving it alone. If a ladder is placed badly and the weight of the person on it manages to shift it off balance, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to move out of the way of it before it falls and squashes your face. I am struggling however, to think of a way in which a number of all things could cause you harm, perhaps the key is in association with the number 13 through confirmation bias. If we make mental notes of all the times when bad things happened to us while the number 13 was somewhere around or involved in a situation, and forget/discount the times when similarly bad things happened without the number present, perhaps that would be enough to inspire superstition, especially when triskaidekaphobia  is put into its cultural context. Here’s looking at you, Jason.

In fact, businesses seeing money everywhere as they do, some airlines actually have no 13th row on their airplanes. Instead the row numbers jump from 12 to 14, avoiding any concerns some might have about sitting in an ‘unlucky’ row on a mode of transport that people are already far too concerned about considering the statistical likelihood of actually having an accident during air travel.

Surely all this could be avoided by just calmly explaining to people that the number 13 won’t make the plane crash no matter who sits in the row it indicates?

Well, you would think so, but it really depends on the person you’re talking to. Of course this doesn’t apply to all airlines, and certainly most people don’t care whether their row number is 13 or 20×6 as long as they get to their destination. Perhaps in this case it is the airlines themselves that are overreacting, and not the entirely fictional idiots they imagine to be buying their tickets.

But really, enjoy your Friday, because in reality it’s probably going to be just as uneventful/eventful as every other Friday in your life, unless there’s a certain event going on that’s completely slipped my mind, in which case it will be considerably more awesome. Remember, sometimes a number is just a number.

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Cat Strickson

Cat Strickson

Cat, or Elly, or Eddy, or whatever name they're going by these days, is a British palaeontologist and fantasy author. It's a pretty awesome skill set, but it doesn't pay much right now. They enjoy science, history, vidyagames and all things SFF.

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