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Friday the 13th arouses superstitions superstitions

Nov. 13, 1998

BY SUSAN SEARFOSS AND EMILY GIBSON

Staff Writer/ Reporter

Susan_Searfoss@baylor.edu

Emily_L_Gibson@baylor.edu

Today, everyone should be especially conscious of black cats, open ladders and don't you dare open that umbrella before you leave the building today. It is Friday the 13th, the day superstitious people dread as much as a shattered mirror.

Superstition is defined as a belief founded on irrational feelings, especially of fear. Despite this negative connotation, throngs of people barricade themselves in their houses in the hopes of avoiding bad luck.

Capt. Wendi L. Betz, chief of the behavioral health section at Vance Air Force Base in Okla., says that superstitions are formed when people draw connections between natural phenomena and good or bad events in their lives that follow those phenomena.

'Who knows how our superstitions got started in the beginning, but maybe somebody had a black cat cross their path, and then something bad happened to them, so they connected the two,' she said in the Air Force News.

The Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA) in Amherst, N.Y., suggests that people should simply stay in bed on Friday, as breaking superstition is even worse than normal on any Friday the 13th.

'It's a scientific fact that on Friday the 13th, if you break other taboos too you're running serious risks,' said Derik Araujo, president of the CFA. 'My advice is, spend the day in bed.'

Some say this is taking superstition too far.

'I think they are silly,' said Wendy Brewton, a Tyler junior.

Dr. Larry Lyon, professor of sociology and dean of the graduate school, speculated as to why people adhere so strictly to their beliefs.

'Superstition comes from an attempt to deal with that which is unknown and uncontrollable,' he said.

Lyon explained that all cultures have their own superstitions and what may be bad one day for one culture may work differently in another.

Even people who do not consider themselves superstitious sometimes find themselves being caught up in the hoopla.

'I think it is stupid,' said Sarah McCourt, a Harlingen sophomore. 'But when I see them (superstitions) such as a black cat, I still find myself thinking about it.'

Betz summed up her thoughts on Friday the 13th by saying people are conditioned to look for events on those days.

'If you have a superstition about Friday the 13th, you're going to look for something bad to happen to you that day, and you're going to pay attention to it,' she said. 'Bad things can happen on other days than Friday the 13th, but that doesn't count, because it doesn't reinforce any belief.'

Betz digressed, confessing that she can not really know the implications of the superstition.

'Then again, maybe black cats and Friday the 13th are bad, and they're actually causing bad things to happen to people ... but I have my doubts,' she said.

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