Weekly roundup - Friday 13th and black cats

Author: Julian Champkin

It is Friday 13th today and though it is still only ten in the morning some awfully unlucky things have happened. I stubbed my toe; the cat caught a shrew and left it in the middle of the kitchen floor, which was unlucky for me because I almost stepped on it, and was even more unlucky for the shrew. It is a black cat too. Clear evidence that superstition works, even for small rodents. Or perhaps not. Yesterday I broke my fingernail, but it wasn’t Friday 13th then, so that wasn’t the fates being lined up against me, it was just an accident.

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Who took my shrew away?

What bad luck!

Mass Observation diaries would certainly have recorded all kinds of unlucky occurances on various Friday 13ths - see link top right.  Tom Fanshawe’s posting on the Italian earthquake that wasn’t, (or the Italian earthquake that was, but in the wrong country) – see his link top right - explains the way that superstition works far better than I can. We have two other postings today, both of them on the Eurovision Song Contest. Did you know that if you touch your left ear with your right thumb and wiggle your toes when the country you want to win begins to sing, that country will inevitably lose? It is a superstition that I have just invented, but I bet it works. Try it tomorrow and see.
(My bet will work overwhelmingly well, on average. There are 25 finalists taking part, so I am going to be proved right 24 times out of 25. That level of certainty is considered enough to establish most scientific hypotheses as having been convincingly demonstrated. So why not mine? )
The thinking part of our brains knows very well that superstitions are rubbish. The deep primitive part of our brains hidden inside us believes the superstitions.
Of course I go along with the thinking part of my brain. But I shall be keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the day, broken fingernail and all. No point in tempting fate. And that cat has just crossed my path again. Very worrying...

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