According to Dr. Michael Seth, professor of history at Phillips University in Enid, Okla., many of the superstitions modern western people hold dear, including the beliefs that 13 is an unlucky number, our human fates are tied to the patterns of the stars, and black cats are evil, originated more than 5,000 years ago in the Middle East — Mesopotamia in particular. “The fact that everything is sevens, 12s and 40s in the Old Testament, of course, is because those were considered good or lucky numbers in Mesopotamia,” Seth said, “and so you see them over and over and over in the Bible.” Because 13 came after lucky number 12, it was associated with evil. “There are a lot of legends going on about the twelve apostles of Christ, and that the 13th member at the last supper was bad,” Seth said, “but these would be much later ideas, after the number 13 was already established as bad.” In addition to retaining the belief of 13 as unlucky, Seth pointed out the belief in the lucky number seven holds, especially in games of chance. “Although these are really ancient Middle Eastern superstitions and beliefs, we still kind of like them,” he said. … “Superstitions in a culture’s collective consciousness can be self-perpetuating, because people look for anything that can support their belief in the superstition. “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,” Betz 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 said. “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.” (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)

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