2013 Bad luck or just superstition

I will show you how to test it out, and debunk the myth and survive Friday 13th 2013!

People fear that 2013 may impose a series of bad luck or misfortune.

These fears extend to not getting married in 2013 and even delaying having babies.

In Ireland,  the last two digits of the year are shown on car license plates, there are rumors that this system will be changed for 2013, due to a fear that car sales will drop.

Is the fear of 2013 founded, or is it really bad luck?

To answer this, we have to  look at the history, of the fear of the number 13.

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13th Baktun – the end of the Mayan Calendar.  21st December 2012.

The last cycle of the Mayan Calendar, the 13th Baktun, was misinterpreted as being the end of the world, despite Mayans stating that the cycle will simply be reset, offering, quite simply, a 14th Baktun.  The end of the calendar was yesterday, 21st December 2012, and we are still here today, the 22nd December 2012.

Judas Iscariot was the 13th member of the last supper.

Judas, who betrayed Jesus, is now labelled as the 13th member of the last supper, and the fear may be linked to not only this, but to the Biblical reference that Jesus died on a Friday.

12 welcome guests, and betrayal, when the number extends to 13, is also in Norse mythology.  In a similar vein to the last supper, 12 Gods attended a banquet, and the 13th uninvited God – Loki, was held responsible for the death of the God, Balder

Triskaidekaphobia – fear of the number 13.

Many people are superstitious regarding the number 13, or Friday 13th.  Others have fear to such an extent, that it is considered a phobia, known as triskaidekaphobia.  If you have a phobia of the number 13 or Friday 13th, you may even find it difficult to say the words aloud, as you believe that this may cause something bad to happen in the future. You can read more on phobias here.

Friday 13th  will occur twice in the year 2013.  Friday 13 September and Friday 13 December.

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Should we be afraid of 2013 or Friday 13th 2013?

In a word, no.  Let’s review the evidence and you can decide for yourself.  For those of you that do not know, I am a psychologist and as such, am no stranger to research.  In order for me to agree with the idea that 2013, or the number 13, or even Friday 13th, 2013 will result in bad luck, we have to set up some sort of control, to test this theory out.

Has anything bad happened to you, that you were not expecting, that was as a direct result of not throwing salt over your shoulder, or walking under a ladder, or the number 13?  Probably not.  However, some of you, may well think it was.  I am not trying to tell you directly you are wrong, rather, I want to take away the fear.

In order to know for sure that the “bad thing” that happened, was as a direct consequence of you doing, or not doing something, we have to set up some type of experiment, with some control.

Bad things happen from time to time.  We cannot say that they were directly caused by something else, until we make the experiment more specific.  Specific means the following control.

  1. Deciding what you would have to do first that would result in something bad.  This would be as specific as saying I would have to be rude to a specific person, and also define what rude entails.  Either calling a specific name, not helping them or some other form of rudeness.
  2. You then have to decide clearly what the bad consequence would entail.  Be as specific as, losing my car keys, not getting (an exact) job, failing a specific exam.
  3. You have to give it a time frame.  Deciding when exactly it would occur.

It could then look like

I will call my sister (specific name) on a specific day and time.  The bad consequence of (be specific) has to occur at (a predetermined) time afterwards.

When you think about it, we are never this specific and we also tend to work backwards.  Something bad happens and we decide this was because of a certain thing we did or did not do in the past, without looking at it in terms of causality. 

What we think and do shapes our brain.

This simply means the way we think about things and the things that we do, tends to become our reality. If we habitually think and respond in a certain way, we are setting up neural pathways in our brain to help us to respond in a similar way the next time.  If you see a ladder and habitually walk around it, your brain will take note of this and help you do the same thing automatically the next time you see a ladder.

If you spill salt and then believe something bad might happen, and have been taught that throwing salt over your shoulder will make sure nothing happens, you will automatically throw salt over your shoulder and carry on as normal.  However, if one day you forget and then something happens, you may attribute the bad thing to the bad luck of spilling salt and not correcting this by the throwing of salt over your shoulder.  Neural pathways are getting laid down in your brain that this omission caused the bad thing.

But is it really true?

Back to Judas Iscariot.  It is believed that Judas spilled salt at the last supper, before betraying Christ.  Do you really think that the spilling of salt caused the betrayal or did Judas make a conscious choice to betray Christ?  I am guessing it was not the salt.

Shaping our brain for 2013.

In a nutshell what I have been saying that the way you think and the things you do become reality.  Self fulfilling prophecies.   It does not mean however, that they are correct.  You can retrain your brain to embrace 2013, even Friday 13th 2013, by thinking and doing differently.  Armed with this knowledge make your self fulfilling prophecies work in your favor.


Think differently.  Test out your theories of bad luck and set up experiments in the fashion discussed above.  Be open to the possibility that 2013 could be a good year for you, by attending to different accounts of the number 13. For some, the number 13 is considered a lucky number. Did you know that on more than one occasion people have won the lottery with a ticket bought on Friday 13th.  One on occasion not only was the ticket bought on Friday 13th, but after a mirror smashed in the person’s home!

One final thought.  If you worked hard all of your life and did the very best you could for your children.  On the day of their graduation you sit, full of pride.  How would you feel it someone said, “your child did well because of that day when you spilled salt, avoided the ladder, or skipped the number 13?  I am guessing you would want to defend how hard your child worked to finally graduate from college.  You may even want to attribute some of their success to your good parenting skills.  So why bother attributing other more unpleasant things to the number 13?

Shape your brain by what you think and what you do, to help you look forward to 2013 and take charge of your own reality.

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