The Number 4 Can Tank Your Home's Value (or Kill You)
In many Asian languages, the number 4 is pronounced similarly to the word for "death" -- in Japanese, for example, both are pronounced "shi." And since death is pretty much universally considered the unluckiest of all states, people native to such languages consider the number 4 similarly unlucky. In a study of five years' worth of real estate sales in the greater Vancouver area, researchers found that houses in Chinese neighborhoods with an address containing a 4 sold for an average of $8,000 less than their luckier counterparts.
If Sherlock Holmes lived at 224B Baker St., Moriarty would've gutted him on day one.
Plummeting home values are of little concern, though, to those who've moved so far out of the neighborhood that they've left this mortal coil -- which is exactly what untold 4-fearers have done throughout the years. Back in 1942, Harvard physiologist Walter B. Cannon coined the term "voodoo death" to describe the very real possibility of a person making themselves so sick with stress as a result of superstitious belief that ... well, the "death" in the name kind of gives away the ending there. Basically, when someone goes through life constantly stressing that unlucky things are about to happen to them, their bodies are pumping out a constant flow of stress hormones. Then they mistakenly walk under a ladder one May the 4th, and boom! Goddamn heart attack.
"This is the worst Star Wars Day ever."
When researchers studied more than two decades' worth of U.S. death certificates for Chinese- and Japanese-born citizens, they found that deaths from cardiac arrest peaked on the 4th of each month. White Americans, on the other hand, showed no such peak -- their tickers gave out at a fairly steady rate throughout the month, mostly due to what we call the "cheeseburger effect." It seems that, by shuffling through the 4th of each month in a constant state of worry about the barrage of bad luck that's about to befall them, many Asian-Americans have created a self-fulfilling (and heart-exploding) prophecy.
And ... that's pretty much how superstition works, in a nutshell.
For more superstitions that miiiiight not be, check out 6 Insane Superstitions That Are Still Shockingly Influential and 5 Retarded Superstitions (With Logical Explanations).
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