Triskaidekaphobia

by Jason Stotts

Although it is strange, it is a fact that many skyscrapers lack a 13th floor. It is not that these structures are limited to only 12 floors, since clearly many building are much taller than this. Rather, these buildings suffer from the irrationality of superstition. One would think that with all of the knowledge of mechanics, metallurgy, plumbing, etc., that go into making a super-structure like a skyscraper, irrationality would be left out. Indeed, it’s not as though there is only a void where the 13th floor would exist, but rather the floor is either not used or is merely renumbered to be the 14th floor. The entire phenomenon is an instance of the “primacy of consciousness”. In this case the people assume that if they don’t call the 13th floor the 13th floor, then it’s not.

In reality 13 is just a number and irrationality is deadly. Although this is a minor instance of irrationality, it’s surprising how many “little instances” one can find in everyday life. One thing that a rational person can do in order to improve their own life is to watch for little quirks like this triskaidekaphobia. The ability to pick out irrationality quickly, even from innocuous phenomena, can aid one is eradicating vestiges of irrationality from one’s own life. This, in turn, improves one’s life.

So, be on the look out for both internal and external irrationality!

(Also, feel free to post other little examples in the comments.)

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