It's Friday the 13th, and millions of people are on edge, fearing a calamity with personal or global repercussions-a broken leg, a stock market crash, or the trigger pulled for World War III.
Why all the anxiety? In short, because the fear is ingrained in Western culture, according to experts.
"If nobody bothered to teach us about these negative taboo superstitions like Friday the 13th, we might in fact all be better off," explained Stuart Vyse, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in New London.
This fear of 13 dates back to before the 19th centuary, with the first documented reference in 1869. However, there are many theories behind what actually caused the superstition. One theory that is the most "believable" if you will, is that the number 13 is an unlucky number because in numerology the number 12 is considered the number of completeness. There are 12 months in the year, 12 hours on a clock, 12 gods of Olypmus, 12 Apostles of Jesus... (you get the picture). The number 13 therefore is considered "irregular".
According to ancient history, it was also thought that seating 13 people at a table would result in the death of one of the diners!
To add to this, Friday is considered to be the most unlucky day of the week! People have been avoiding travelling or conducting anything important on this day for many years. Why was this day considered so unlucky (and still so today)? It could be because it was a Friday that Jesus was crucifed, or it could a number of other theories given over time. The truth is, there is no evidence to dictate the exact reason why Friday 13th is considered unlucky.
Nevertheless, a lack of evidence doesn't seem to matter to society: more than 80 percent of high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor, many airports skip the 13th gate, and hospitals and hotels rarely have a room number 13! On streets in Florence, Italy, houses positioned between number 12 and 14 are addressed as 12 1/2.
"It's been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Dossey, who is also the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.
It may seem like hocus pocus, but many people take it very seriously. There are even organizations which counsels clients on how to overcome fear of Friday the 13th, a phobia that he estimates afflicts 17 to 21 million people in the United States.
DePauw University's Dudley said nobody really knows why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky.
"You've got to have something that is unlucky, and somehow they hit on 13," he said. "But all these explanations are just moonshine."
Do you believe in Friday 13th? Did you experience any bad luck today? Share with us!