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A quick rant on why 12/12/12 only happening once is NOT special, why bad things DON’T happen in threes, and so on

December 12, 2012 6 comments

It’s the morning of December 12th, 2012, and already I’m seeing the tweets flying about “12/12/12 only happens once in a lifetime!” And while that’s true, I’m asking you peeps to slow your roll. You know what other date only happens once in a lifetime? You guessed it – tomorrow, 12/13/12. And the next day, and the next day. And while it’s cute to say all the numbers are the same, it’s no different from 12:12PM with 12 seconds happening once a day, or any other “wow, can you believe it?” proclamations. (Even Papa Johns just sent me an email to “celebrate 12/12/12” by buying one pizza at $12, getting a second for $.12 – c’mon, does anyone ‘celebrate’ this?)

I think people are overlay fascinated with numbers and TRY to make them fit some cosmic pattern, but I’ll have to be the wet blanket to tell y’all that it simply ain’t true. So here I go busting a whole bunch of other numerical myths that drive me batty:

• Wow, did you see last night’s Pick Three? Cosmic, man! What are the odds of 333 coming out in the lottery? Uh, the same as 478, or 139, or 982. Every number has the same chance to come out (exception being the big hopper of ping pong balls, where a number can only come out once). So while it looks cute, odds are the same (hence the same payout).

two_roulette_displays• The roulette wheel just came up black seventeen times in a row! It’s gotta be red next time, put everything on red! It’s DUE! What are the odds it’s black again? Uh, same as the odds it will be red, just under 50/50. The roulette wheel has no memory; it’s completely random every time , which is WHY the casinos put up that big board showing the past few spins. They want suckers, er, customers to think they see a pattern and bet big. Same for the “hot hand” in craps – dice have no memory.

• My personal favorite: bad things (usually celebrity deaths) happen in threes. Yes, three celebrities can (and will) die, and sometimes within a short time frame. Does that mean they die in threes? No. What it means is that YOU STOPPED COUNTING. That fourth celebrity that died a few days later? No one factors him/her into the equation because it’s not as whoa/spooky. Two celebs croak, everyone holds their breath for the third, and when he turns up in the back of a Bentley, face covered in white powder, everyone says “See? Threes man!” Then the next day Abe Vigoda* kicks the bucket and people say “watch out, there will be a second and a third soon!” Stop it. You’re actually starting over when that fourth one goes.

*Believe it or not, Abe Vigoda is actually alive…how I have no idea, but here’s an awesome Abe Vigoda Status page so you can track him.

I’m in the travel biz, and last year we had a lot of brides-to-be requesting 11/11/11 for their destination wedding date. A LOT. One of them was a friend and she was insisting, regardless of cost, to be married on that day. She said “11/11/11 will be something we remember every year.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her next year 11/11/12 wouldn’t sound nearly as cool.

Any similar ‘urban myths’ you guys have? Make this your online therapy couch…

steve