Some years back I lived on the 25th floor of a high-rise apartment building, where my grandsons loved to visit me. One of their favorite things was riding up in the elevator, and it never escaped their notice that after the elevator reached the 12th floor, it then skipped in numbering to the 14th. At first, they were puzzled.
I explained to them about superstitions and how some people believe that the number 13 is an unlucky number—to the point where many high-rise buildings don’t even have a 13th floor. “But,” my grandson declared, “they’re fooling themselves. It’s still the 13th floor no matter what they call it!”
This got me thinking more broadly about what makes up a superstition. I noticed one thing that they have in common, and that’s an “if … then” equation. “If you live on the 13th floor, then you’ll have bad luck.” Or, “If a black cat crosses your path, then you’ll have a terrible day.” I began to wonder if many other assertions from the human mind based on “if … then” equations might qualify as superstitions of a sort—that while I might not believe in black cats or 13th floors bringing bad luck, was I still falling for superstitious beliefs in more modern ways?