(Investigator 5, 1989 March)

From 1840 to 1960 every U.S. president elected in a year ending with zero died in office. Superstitious people often saw this as a "jinx" – a presidential death jinx.

The Funk and Wagnalls dictionary defines jinx as "A person or thing supposed to bring bad luck." In the case of the presidency the bad luck apparently lay in the zero.

People directly involved in politics in hundreds of lands must number millions. Inevitably, with such great numbers involved, some sort of seemingly regular pattern will occasionally occur somewhere by chance and last for a while. But chance patterns eventually break down just as an unbiased coin which has shown six heads in a row eventually comes up tails.

Ronald Reagan, elected president in 1980, faced not only the supposed jinx but also cancer, stomach growths, an assassin's bullet in the lung, and old age. In January, at the age of 78, Reagan stepped down from the presidency, alive and well.

So ended, "an eerie pattern of fatality that had haunted the White House."

From all over England women desiring pregnancy are heading for the King William IV pub in Chigwell, Essex. There, a bar-stool had been accredited with "special fertility powers after twelve women who sat on it became pregnant.

Of course worldwide there are millions of bar room stools and hundreds of millions of people using them. Therefore some stools will by chance be sat on by more women who later become pregnant than other stools. No special powers need be involved.

The same explanation – based on chance and probability applies to most occasions when a so-called jinx, hex or curse seems to have come true or when a statue or other object seems to have "special power".

Let's accept science and be rational!

(B M)