What Is the Most Popular Superstition in America?
Researchers find the most common superstitions in the United States, breaking them down by gender, age and part of the country.
Living in the most technologically and scientifically-minded society to date, many of us, reasonable people, still can’t help but succumb to superstitions in our daily lives. That’s just how our brains help us cope. This would be a strange world indeed if black cats really gained control over your destiny simply by crossing the road in front of you. Still, many would try to find a way around if a black cat showed up in their path. Just in case.
To understand better what superstitions still hold sway over the minds of Americans, researchers surveyed over 2,000 people and found that about 40% would consider themselves “superstitious”.
The top superstition? Knocking on wood. Something harder and harder to do in a modern home. Apparently, 32.3% do this.
If you are curious, this practice to avoid bad luck has its root in pagan traditions, where various cultures believed helpful spirits resided inside certain trees. So if you touched that tree, you’d be asking the spirit for protection.
Other top superstitions involved wishing on stars, crossing fingers for luck and seeking out four-leaf clovers. Interestingly, some of the bad omens relate to numerology, with 3, 666, and 13 being particularly worrisome.
Black cats are a potential hazard to 9.2% of the surveyed group, but we know the real number is much higher.
If you look at the results from a gender-based perspective, men come out more for believing in “beginner’s luck” while women are more likely to wish on a star. Both groups knock on wood with nearly the same conviction.
Breaking it down by age groups, millennials are more likely to believe in luck, while generation Xers apparently are the most superstitious, with 10 different superstitions scoring high in the results. To the baby boomers, number 13 is of distinct concern.
As far as which part of the country is most superstitious, the honor goes to the South. Still, it’s easy to see that, overall, the numbers between the regions are fairly similar, with the west being least populated by people worried about throwing salt over their left shoulders.
The study was conducted by Casino.org.
Cover photo: A four leaf clover, a rare find and traditionally thought to bring good luck. (Photo by Express/Express/Getty Images)
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
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- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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