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Paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th

Posted at 5:30 AM, Sep 13, 2019
and last updated 2020-11-13 10:32:04-05

TULSA — Ever wonder why people have a fear of Friday the 13th?

Considering today is Friday the 13th, we decided to dig a bit deeper to find out about the phobia of this spooky date.

According to Ben Peters, Hazel Rogers Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tulsa, the fear of Friday the 13th is called Paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is an example of what scientist would call "motivated reasoning."

This means that if something bad happens to you on Friday, and you believe Friday the 13th is unlucky, then you will attribute the bad luck you have to this calendar date.

Likewise, if you don't believe in the unlucky date of Friday the 13th, and something bad happens to you on that date, you simply won't associate the two.

"This hasn’t stopped Hollywood of course from capitalizing on our irrational fears with—could there be a more obvious genre for exploiting irrational fears—a horror movie franchise!" Peters said. "Keep in mind that in Hispanic culture, martes trece, or Tuesday, not Friday the 13th gets a bad name. In Greece, it’s Tuesday too (Mars, after whom the day is named, is the God of war). In Italy, it’s Friday the 17th. Does popular culture just bristle at prime numbers? Don’t forget that there have been multiple competing, conflicting calendars over the centuries too. So, never is a day only the 13th. If this is beginning to make a single unlucky date feel a little bit arbitrary, battle your motivated reasoning by Wikipedia-ing any month and date: you will find a long list of seemingly unrelated historical events over the centuries, many of which are unfortunate and unhappy. Any day, taken in the context of the world history, packs enough gunpowder to make it an unlucky day. So, take care and make this Friday the best it can be!"

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