Friday, August 08, 2008

8/8/08 Means Nothing

The absurdity of the superstition that today's date is somehow fortuitous and will, among other things, make the Olympics run smoothly was discussed in an article by Benjamin Radford posted today on

Since eight is a lucky number in China, Radford writes that's the reason the Olympics are slated to begin at 8:08:08 PM (local time) today. However, the Chinese do not hold a monopoly on numerical superstitions, as Radford points out:

"Last year on July 7, 2007, weddings were scheduled for that date at triple the usual number, and thousands of people played sevens in the lotteries. In Florida, for example, 30,000 people chose the lucky number sevens for the Cash 3 game and the Play 4 game (all were losers)."

Radford goes on to list some of the more humorous examples of this superstition revealing itself in American culture, like the deals the Super 8 Motel chain is offering today, or the announcement of an organization called the Expolitics Institute. A recent press release from the group states that today, August 8 2008, will be Galactic Freedom Day, in which the public should seek to reveal government and corporate agreements with extraterrestrials. From the release:

"On 8/8/08 a multinational consortium of citizen organizations conducts a positive intention event concerning government and corporate agreements involving extraterrestrial life and technology. The goal is to expose and nullify these agreements due to their non-representational status. On 8/8/08 at 8 pm [UT/GMT] individuals and small groups around the planet will convene to celebrate the inaugural Galactic Freedom Day."

I don't know about you, but I don't remember seeing any governmental bodies or large companies reveal any ties with aliens today. Or for that matter, any "citizen organizations" calling on these groups to reveal anything. Oh well, maybe on September 9 next year.

Bradford also brings up the point that ultimately, time and date designations are entirely arbitrary. In other words, they are completely human constructed. Why should anyone denote any particular significance to a date designation that could be a written any number of ways? In case some people haven't noticed, the date today is actually 8/8/2008. Radford comments:

"Though the official start time of the Olympics is filled with eights, it is just as correct to say that the games will start at 2000:08 on 08/08/5768 (using military time and the Jewish calendar)."

Testing to see whether certain numbers are in fact lucky would be fairly easy, Radford writes:

"For example, to do a study to find out if significantly fewer people than average die at the ages of 8 or 88. Or if most people born on certain significant dates (say, 8/8/1988) are healthier or richer than their counterparts."

The simple truth is, these tests have been done, and they consistently fail. If numbers such as seven and eight truly kept more people alive, wouldn't more people than average be born on these allegedly fortuitous dates? Wouldn't these numbers be showing up many more places?

It seems whenever a string of identical numbers line up in any date or time designation, most people can't help but ascribe significance to them. I cannot tell you how many times friends of mine have told me to make a wish anytime a nearby digital clock reads 11:11. The number superstition, like so many claims of the paranormal, is a construct of the human mind. As can be seen from the many cases of pareidolia about which I've written, humans are hard-wired to see meaning in things; to detect order in chaos.

If you really want an example of the number superstition run rampant, think about this: in my hometown of Las Vegas, not a single hotel tower has a 13th floor. Of course, all towers over 13 stories have 13th floors, it's just none of them are designated as such. Mind you, I don't blame the hotel-casino owners for this. The owners are just giving their customers what they want.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: