Today is (gasp) Friday the Thirteenth—a day of trepidation for those who are superstitious and gullible. Humanists, however, are not consulting horoscope predications or numerologists. Instead, humanists are making decisions based on reason and developed critical-thinking skills.
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’s 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 they are a “good” match to us based on their sign shows prejudice and discrimination.
Superstitions cause fears and misunderstandings on completely harmless things: black cats, albino children, and the gypsy culture, even nontheists themselves. These fearmongering superstitions must be stopped.
While some find this day anxiety-filled, those of us who do not give credibility to superstitious nonsense and unfounded predictions look at May 13 as just another day.
Friggatriskaidekaphobes (those who possess an overwhelming fear of Friday the Thirteenth) will surely step out the door, wondering what the “dark” day will have in store. Humanists, however, view this day as one of opportunity. We can take the time to discuss the value of thinking critically 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 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, but 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.
There are two Friday the Thirteenth dates on the 2017 calendar (January and October). Humanist groups should consider following the lead of the Freethought Society by opening a Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center on Friday the Thirteenth. We can help train a staff of rational people to help make Friday the Thirteenth calendar dates less frightening by dispelling myths and superstitions in a fun and entertaining atmosphere.
The Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center could feature Ladder Limbo and dancing with open umbrellas to slow and fast tunes. Recommended lighthearted activities could include Horoscope Trashing, bursting open a ghost piñata, and a Leprechauns bowling game. Go ahead and ceremoniously shatter a mirror. Spill salt, and travel through an easy anti-superstition obstacle course scoff at Fortune Teller predictions.
Remember, however, that while we are having fun making a joke of simple superstitions, some societies in sub-Saharan Africa blame innocent children for any “bad luck” that befalls them. A superstitious community can target and commit violence towards individuals considered witches. 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 humanists, 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.