My latest “Behavior & Belief” column for Skeptical Inquirer is a continuation of the topic of superstition in real estate. In this installment, I cover the 13th-floor phobia, which continues to plague developers in both the United States and Moscow—although the Russians deal with it differently than we do. I also discuss vastu shastra, the Indian version of feng shui. In the United States, vastu shastra is most commonly encountered in a version developed by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the developer of Transcendental Meditation who became popular after the Beatles visited him in India fifty-two years ago this month. Proponents of Maharishi vastu—like those of feng shui—make a number of unsupported claims about how the design of their buildings promote health and prosperity for the occupants.
A few weeks ago I spent a very pleasant hour with Jeff Walker on the “Jeff Does Vegas” podcast discussing the role of superstition in the casino. Jeff is based in Canada, but he makes many trips to Vegas each year and clearly knows the place well. He also has a terrific radio voice. Spoiler Alert: Jeff makes the surprising admission that he thinks his wife is unlucky, and I suggest an empirical test that might prove whether she is or not.
You can listen to the podcast here.
My mini book tour of England is shaping up nicely. I will be doing a number of dates in early May in support of my new book Superstition: A Very Short Introduction. I am getting excited about being in the UK in the spring.
The dates of the tour are below. If anyone is interested in the details of these talks, send me an email (or reply to this one).
That’s it for now.