Friday the Thirteenth: A “Lucky” Day for Humanists

Only one thing can be predicted for this Friday the Thirteenth—it will be an anxiety-filled day for the superstitious and gullible. Friggatriskaidekaphobes (those who possess an overwhelming fear of Friday the Thirteenth) will surely step out the door in trepidation, wondering what the “dark” day will have in store.

Rational-minded humanists, however, view this day as one of opportunity. We can take the time to talk about thinking critically about superstitions when we encounter Friggatriskaidekaphobes. We can ask questions as to why friends, colleagues and/or family members might knock on wood, cross their fingers, or worry about making major decisions on Friday the Thirteenth. Humanists should have some “charming” rational statements to counter irrational claims that Friday the Thirteenth is an unlucky day.

People remember the few times that they have had “bad luck” on Friday the Thirteenth, but they do not remember all the regular things that happen. Even a slight difficulty that happens to fall on Friday the Thirteenth is overwhelming in the mind of a superstitious person, even though little difficulties occur every single day.

The influence of superstition is far from harmless. Friday the Thirteenth superstitions create a billion-dollar-a-year economic impact with plane and train reservation cancellations, absenteeism, and reduced commerce. Merely the personal anxiety and inconvenience of these ancient superstitions can ruin this day for millions of Americans. 

Many people actually consult daily, monthly, and/or yearly horoscope predictions in an attempt to gain some control of their lives. Such people usually have trouble making decisions and seek easy answers for difficult questions. Of course, rational people know that it is impossible to determine personality traits based on the alignment of the stars at the time of your birthday—in fact, using zodiac signs to figure out people and whether or not that sign is a “good” match to us shows prejudice and discrimination. Superstitions cause fears and misunderstandings on completely harmless things: black cats, albino children, the gypsy culture, even nontheists themselves. These fear-mongering superstitions must be stopped.

There are three Friday the Thirteenth dates scheduled for this year (February, March and November). Humanist groups could consider following the lead of the Freethought Society by opening a Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center on Friday the Thirteenth. A staff of rational people will be of assistance to all who find these calendar dates frightening by dispelling myths and superstitions in a fun and entertaining atmosphere.

Today in Fullerton, California, a West Coast Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center will open at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Conference Center. The event is co-sponsored by the Freethought Society, Freethought Alliance and Backyard Skeptics. It will feature dancing (Ladder Limbo, Open Umbrellas to slow and fast tunes, and more). Lighthearted activities include Horoscope Trashing, bursting open a ghost piñata, and a Leprechauns bowling game. There will also be a mirror breaking ceremony. Attendees will get rid of secret superstitions by letting Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment  “nurses” and “doctors” cure them by having them walk under a ladder, spill salt, and travel through an easy anti-superstition obstacle course. If patients pass the “black cat scan” and superstition-breaking exam, a “Clean Bill of Mental Health” will be awarded. An official Miss Fortune Teller will be delivering fake predictions throughout the night, and caricature artist Celestia Ward will be creating humorous souvenirs.

While we are having fun making a joke of simple superstitions, villages in Africa are blaming innocent children for any “bad luck” that befalls them. There is maiming and killing done when a superstitious village thinks they have found a witch. This is the worse case of superstitions gone amok, but the humor we use now will hopefully stop superstitions from growing worse.

We even see it here in the United States—just look at what comes out of the mouths of evangelical preachers after a natural or human made disaster. They quickly blame gays, feminists, liberals, atheists, and anybody they don’t agree with as they irrationally seek to understand and deal with reality.

I am always ready to offer ideas and assistance to those groups who like this idea and have the energy to put on a Friday the Thirteenth Anti-Superstition Bash. Let’s spread rational and critical thinking by questioning superstitions not only on Friday the Thirteenth, but every time we notice superstitions controlling behaviors and causing fear of this beautiful, unpredictable, and natural world.

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