April 02, 2014

Are You Superstitious? Facts

  • Diane Duyser thought that an impression of the Virgin Mary appeared on her toasted cheese sandwich in 1994. She believed it brought her good luck and preserved the sandwich for ten years, eventually selling it for $28,000 through an online auction.

  • Baseball great Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game, which he believed gave him a winning advantage.

  • Horseshoes are thought to bring good fortune when hung above a doorway. Some believe that a horseshoe with the two ends pointing up collects good luck and keeps it from falling out, while other traditions state that the two ends should point downward so that luck pours onto those who walk through the door.

  • People become less superstitious as they age: 59% of people aged 11-15 said they were superstitious, compared to 44% of people aged between 31-40 and just 35% of the over 50s.

  • A common superstition for pilots is to not take a picture of themselves in front of their aircraft before a flight. It is thought to be bad luck and to portend death.

  • Approximately 47 million Americans read their horoscope every day.

  • In Russia, people spent nearly $925 million USD (30 billion rubles) preparing for the apocalypse that never came on December 21, 2012.

  • In China, where the number 8 is considered a sign of luck and prosperity, a man bid approximately $270,000 USD for the phone number: 8888-8888.

  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt despised Friday the thirteenth. As a matter of fact, he would never start an important trip on a Friday if he could help it.

  • Black cats were originally deemed bad luck in the middle ages because they were thought to be companions of witches.

  • Bad luck for walking under a ladder originated in ancient Egypt. A ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle, and to Egyptians, triangles represented the trinity of the gods, and to pass through a triangle was to desecrate them.

  • A recent study showed that superstitious beliefs may also increase a person's belief in his or her own abilities and talents. Participants who were given good luck charms set higher goals for what they wanted to achieve on the tasks, and said they felt more confident in their abilities.

  • According to a study by Dr. Jane Risen, a professor at the University of Chicago, and her colleague, Dr. Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University, even those who don’t think they’re superstitious have a reflexive fear of tempting fate. An action that tempts fate reflexively calls a negative outcome to mind, which, in turn, makes it seem especially likely to occur, for example, trading away a lottery ticket makes that ticket more likely to win.

  • A Toronto suburb that has long avoided the superstition by skipping 13 when giving out new addresses has decided to do away with the number four as well. Four is considered unlucky by speakers of Cantonese and Mandarin because it sounds like the word death.

  • In a study of 2068 men and women, women were significantly more superstitious than men. Fifty-one percent of women said that they were very/somewhat superstitious compared to just twenty-nine percent of men.

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