For many people, Friday the 13th suggests bad luck -- but is it really tempting fate or taking a risk to break a mirror? Are you
Breaking a Mirror
courting disaster by walking under a ladder? And what really happens if you step squarely on that crack in the sidewalk? Challenge these and other superstitions at the Exploratorium's new Superstition Obstacle Course opening on Friday, June 13, and on view through September 1, 2008, from 11am-4pm. Although none of the beliefs represented have a scientific basis, many believe such behaviors are taboo and invite bad luck. Regardless of their truth, superstitions are a part of human culture, and offer a rich source of understanding why we believe and act as we do. The Superstition Obstacle Course is presented in conjunction with Mind, the major new Exploratorium collection, four years in the making, made possible by the National Science Foundation. It's a place where visitors experience their own thoughts, feelings and actions in provocative and unexpected ways.
Within the new Superstition Obstacle Course, risk seven years bad luck by smashing a mirror, flirt with a penny’s worth of luck, see if you feel the urge to knock on wood, risk draining the goodness from a horseshoe, walk under a ladder, step on a few cracks, listen to some bad luck music, spill a little salt, try a misfortune cookie and much more. Although fears and beliefs about these acts have little or no rational basis, they influence the thoughts and actions of many. Experience how your own superstitions, your own emotions, and your own judgment come into play. The Exploratorium presents the Obstacle Course and related activities as a fun opportunity for visitors to explore their own thinking and behavior.
The Mind collection offers windows into the subtle but powerful processes and mechanisms at work inside our heads. At A Sip of Conflict, for example, drink from a water fountain fashioned from a very real but unused toilet. At Limelight, stand before a simulated lively audience and examine your own emotional and cognitive reactions to being the center of attention.
Superstition Obstacle Course is inspired by activities developed by CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.