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LUCK
&
SUPERSTITION

People have long tried to improve their luck and, faced with such a mysterious force, often have resorted to equally mysterious methods -- superstitions.

Objects Become Associated With Good Luck

Often, an object becomes associated with great good luck. So, after winning an important tennis match, a player may attribute his good fortune to his shirt. After people learned that Admiral George Dewey wore a rabbit's foot during the Spanish-American War's battle of Manila Bay -- his squadron virtually destroyed Spain's fleet in the Philippines without suffering a single casualty -- the rabbit's foot became a favorite talisman.

Why Is 13 Unlucky?

Religious beliefs underlie some luck-associated superstitions. Knocking on wood was thought to bring good luck because of ancient beliefs in benevolent tree gods. The number 13 is thought unlucky because 13 people were at Christ's Last Supper. Walking under a ladder is unlucky, or so the thinking goes, because a ladder leaning against the wall forms a triangle and walking under it would break the Holy Trinity the triangle symbolizes.

The problem is that none of these work, for good or for ill. Study after study has shown that these superstitions are groundless.

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