Is Friday the 13th really unlucky?

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One concept brought up in Psychology 1001 thus far is illusory correlations from Chapter 2, "Research Methods," of Scott Lilienfeld's textbook, Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. An illusory correlation is the ongoing belief of a certain claim or association to be true even though there is no statistical data or scientific evidence backing it up.
I think that at some point or another everyone entertains the idea that these myths could be real (usually when we are younger and eager to believe what anyone else tells us). But then you reach a point in your life when you realize that there needs to be evidence supporting such outrageous claims if you're going to continue believing them. For me, it is amazing that many urban legends and superstitions have survived multiple generations without scientific proof. However, it is still interesting to see the concept of belief perseverance in action; and then being able to use the 6 principles of scientific thinking to discern whether or not I want to believe in it.

Growing up, I fed into the superstition of Friday the 13th. Every Friday the 13th I would take note of the negative things that happened to me on that day and attribute it to that myth, not thinking it was just coincidence. I have provided the link to an article about Friday the 13th and the persistent belief that it is unlucky. http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/friday_the_13th.htm. This article also includes a link to a study done in 1993, which was published in the British Medical Journal supporting the 13th's unluckiness. In this case, I used the principle of correlation vs. causation.
In the study done by the Department of Public Health by the United Kingdom in 1993, I questioned it using the correlation vs causation principle. Although it reported a standard deviation of p<0.05 between the variables of the number of vehicles on the road, the numbers of shoppers in supermarkets, and the number of hospital admissions due to accidents, the exact cause of this statistic still cannot be identified, only assumed. Is there a 3rd variable causing this correlation? Is it just coincidence?
And going along with the principle of replicability, can we do another study and get the same results? I was not able to find another one.

Throughout the article, there were many theories and ancient beliefs as to why Friday and the number 13 were considered unlucky; but there was no scientific data. A lot of the theories had to do with death and religion, which are both scientific mysterious. We cannot know what happens when we die and we cannot verify if there really is a god. I think that people feed into these superstitions to satisfy their own need for answers--even if they are wrong. People seek explanations to the unknown no matter how absurd it is. It's a great way to entertain ones self as well.

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This page contains a single entry by Katherine Sanchez published on October 2, 2011 9:55 PM.

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