The recently established Brussels Airlines has come under fire from idiots for the company’s use of thirteen stars in its logo. Upon unveiling the design, the company was inundated by passionate pleas from misguided clowns who objected to the number thirteen being featured so prominently on an aircraft.
For those just joining us, many cultures consider the number thirteen to be unlucky. The reason why is difficult to pinpoint, but is probably due to a few factors — for starters, thirteen is one more than twelve, a rather nice composite number. If twelve people want to play Pictionary, you have many options for forming teams of two, three, four, or six. If thirteen people want to play Pictionary, one poor jerk has to be the designated hourglass flipper. In addition to the number’s general unwieldiness, its reputation wasn’t exactly improved following the realization that Judas was the thirteenth dude at Jesus’ last noshing. Come to think of it, Judas’ reputation was in need of some serious public relations work, considering that it turns out he might have been one of the good guys after all. Anyway, the poor little number got a bad rap.
Here’s the thing. If you do a Google search to find out why we consider thirteen to be unlucky, you’ll find all the above information plus some more theories. You’ll find out all about how women on a 28-day menstrual cycle have thirteen periods in a year, and other fun factoids. Oddly, if you search to find the answer to the question, “Why do we believe thirteen is unlucky,” you will not easily find the answer, “Because it is.” Because it’s not. Why do we believe picking up the phone will give us a dial tone? Because it does! Why do we believe kittens feel soft? Because they do! Why do we believe robots are totally rad? Because they are. Why do we believe the number thirteen is unlucky? Because it is a superstition passed down throughout centuries of myth making.
But wait, I hear you ask in the spirit of open-mindedness. There must be some evidence that the number thirteen actually causes someone bad luck, right? Let’s go to Wikipedia, that lauded storehouse of information.
Most race car drivers consider 13 a very unlucky number, as a car carrying that number has never won the Indianapolis 500 or a NASCAR Nextel Cup race, and most all Formula 1 teams opt out of carrying the number 13 when car numbers are given out to teams on basis of points.
Who here sees a problem with this? Come on, raise your hands. No one? Okay, I’ll start.
First, is it possible that the number wins less often because, like the Formula 1 racers, most teams opt out of carrying it? Car #13 has been driven in the Indy 500 just twice since 1910, and only a handful of NASCAR drivers have raced the #13 car full-time throughout the organizations history.
Now, let’s look at the numbers that haven’t won the Indy 500: 10, 13, 18, 19, 21, 22, 28, 29, 33, 37-47, 49, 50, 52-65, 67, 69-81, 83-90, 92-97, 100-infinity. Are any of those considered unlucky?
That leaves us with the NASCAR Nextel Cup races, of which there are about 40. The Nextel Cup has only been around since 2004 — before that NASCAR drivers raced for the Winston Cup, so already we’ve pared down the options quite a bit assuming the Wiki author didn’t mean to include the other Cups in NASCAR’s history. Finding out the car numbers that haven’t won is a lot tougher than the Indy 500, mostly because NASCAR’s web site sucks. I found the most recent results for the Daytona 500, a pretty big Nextel Cup race, and saw that there was a #13 car, driven by Joe Nemechek — he came in 9th place and won $302,009. Poor, unlucky fellow.
After a bit more digging, I finally uncovered this history of the #13 car on NASCAR’s site. According to the article, Johnny Rutherford drove the #13 to victory at the Daytona 500 in 1963, confirming that the Wiki author did deliberately restrict the NASCAR wins to just the past two years of the “Nextel Cup.”
Man, it sure takes a lot of work to find reasons to hate a number.