Black Cats And Friday 13th – Talking Superstitions On National Breakfast Television Live!

[Oooh, I nearly forgot - I also woke up to this lovely review from SkepticLawyer, about the Scope of Skepticism book! How's that for lucky?] 

2:15am – I wake up and throw copy of Stuart Vyse’s Believing in Magic into bag before diving into the shower.

2:30am – Check clock and discover it’s running behind as well as running backwards. It’s a backwards clock, but it’s not meant to be that late.

2:45am – Hit the road and yes, realise that I was right when I thought that it’d be too early for any traffic. It’s an easy ride into the television station.

3:15am – Discover that it’s just me and the security guard. No one else there yet. Ooops. Is it possible to be too early? Yes.

3:30am – Coffee at McDonalds as a police car does circles around the parking lot. I look over again as to how to correctly pronounce:

Triskaidekaphobia
Friggatriskaidekaphobia 

and jot down some points about a cute story found on Wikipedia:

On September 9, 1969, the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets faced each other at Shea Stadium. The Cubs’ division lead over the Mets had dropped to just 1.5 games, and this game was considered to be critical. Midway through the game, fans surreptitiously released a black cat onto the field. The cat headed straight for the Cubs’ Ron Santo in the on-deck circle, then made a beeline for the Cubs’ dugout where it seemed to stare down all of the players. Cubs manager Leo Durocher‘s superstitions were borne out, as the Cubs not only lost that game, but much of the rest of the season, as they would post an 8-17 record for the month and ultimately lose the National League East to the Mets by eight games. 

3:45am - Enter the station and meet Kevin, who gets me a coffee and takes me to the recording room with the backdrop of a sunny Perth:

4:00am – sneak a photo of myself on the monitor:

4:15am - prepare to be live on Channel 10′s Breakfast! The cameraman is very cool and chats to me about the research I did into superstitions and I get to practice “Triskaidekaphobia”.

What was it like? It was a riot – firstly, the host was focusing on the rather camera-struck cat he was holding… while trying to smash a mirror. In the meantime, the poor quasi-terrified weather girl was struggling to open an umbrella as the co-host admitted to holding her breath while passing by graveyards.

By the time I was presenting some basic facts about confusion of correlation and causation, our understandable efforts to control one’s situation under trying conditions like sporting events and socially-reinforced fears about Friday 13th… the cat was in the process of escaping the set, the hosts were in hysterics and there was smashed glass all over the coffee table.

Brilliant fun. And I got some nice compliments about my ‘not-so-lucky’ shirt! Tremendous thanks to the Young Australian Skeptics who passed on the contact details to be on the show.

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Pingback: Science Tidbits for July 13, 2012 « Teaching Sapiens

  • Andy

    Disappointed yesterday to see Paul Henry calling atheists “closed minded”. I can only assume that he’s open-minded to the possibility of invisible flying unicorns and concrete teapots orbiting Saturn, among other things.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      …after seeing him on a recent Hamster Wheel (a link that I posted to), I’m not so sorry that his show is ending.


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