Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chinese Olympics, Earthquake and the Luck Superstition

[by Sagaladoola] P.S. Please read everything before commenting

There are persistent mails and blog entries circulating around the internet and discussions on radio and coffee shops in Malaysia mentioning the Great Sichuan Earthquake in China and a certain significance of a Number. The casualties are plenty, a potential number of 50,000 people may be achieved. It is China's biggest earthquake to date , 30 years after the Tangshan disaster which numbered a massive total of about 275,000 deaths reported. As a human being, I feel sorry to hear all that happening in a nation which is about to revel in the Olympics in August this year. As usual, natural catastrophes are almost hard to predict or prevented. Let's see what is being speculated by others (not me, Sagaladoola) at the moment :

"As everyone knows, Olympic games will be held at 08:08 (time) on 08/08/2008 (date) in China. However, digit 8 is considered as very unlucky in China this year. On 25 Jan (2+5+1=8), a snow disaster which is rarely seen in more than 50 years hit Hunan province. On 14 Mar (1+4+3=8), serious violent attacks occured in Tibet / Xizang. On 12 May (1+2+5=8), a 7.6-7.8 magnitude earthquake occured in Sichuan province. In addition to that, the date the earthquake struck is 88 days before the Olympics starts. Is it a mere coincidence? What will actually happen next? There are 2 more dates before the Olympics that should be observed .....

11 Jun (1+1+6=8) ? 10 July (1+0+7)?"

It is common with the Chinese (world over, Malaysia, Singapore etc. not only Mainland) to make up fallacies and superstitions. I think the mindset has to change. A bigger picture must be viewed before coming to a decision or conclusion. I feel the need to address this issue. Let's break down the points above into several arguments.

Argument 1
From a geological perspective , earthquake is related to seismic activities, Almost every year after 1993, thousands of people die in individual nations affected by earthquake. It is the condition of the plate movement that caused this and not luck. Nations from different continents - North America, South America, European nations like Athens, Turkey , Middle East nations, Pakistan, South Asia like India, South East Asia like Indonesia, Pacific Islands and African nations are affected since 1993. The casualties after year 1993 for individual nations are often few thousands. Pacific Island suffered the least deaths because of their small population.

Since 2004, the Sumatran-Andaman earthquake-tsunami, the plate of Asia that causes Earthquake has been getting very active. In 2007 alone, out-of-the normal 9 occurences was registered of which all is in the Asia-Pacific. In 2008, to date, there is already 6 occurences, all in Asia-Pacific. In history, it is already considered not ordinary.

If the seismic activities can be calculated and predicted using science, prevention can be done. The current technology is not sufficient to do that 100% efficiently but an earthquake-prone nation like Japan periodically improve this. Furthermore, Japan uses good architectural means on their building. If the buildings are not that easy to collapse, survival rate becomes higher. Every year, Japan trains their people (children included) through major earthquake drills.

In my opinion, to equate the earthquake event as a result of luck in the context of superstition or God will not improve the situation. It is a coincidence.

Argument 2
Besides that, nothing happened on 7/1, 6/2, 5/3, 4/4, 3/5, 13/4 , 15/2, 16/1, 22/4, 23/3, 24/2. Comparatively only 3 dates were mentioned: 25/1, 12/5 and 14/3 ...

The dates above can be broken up into single digits and added to derive 8.

Counting the number of dates above, no bad incidents happened on 11 out of 14 date. Only 3 out of 14 dates disaster struck. Even if disaster really struck China on 11/6 and 10/7, that would make the equation 11 out of 16 greater than 5 out of 16

So, there is no such thing called Black (Unlucky) 8. Even, if the 11 is greater than 3 (or 5) logic is taken into consideration, it would not be a wise thing to equate China as being lucky. I would prefer to conclude this as people being pessimistic and absurd.

Argument 3
Premises must be logically consistent to substantiate arguments. Going by the logic of calculation on deriving the number 8 from dates, Olympics is 08/08. So 8 + 8 = 16 and the derived number is no longer 8. Even if there is a Black 8 (which has been disproved), it shall not affect the Olympics.

There is no such thing named Black (Unlucky) 8. There is no such thing called Lucky 8 either. It is not for me to speculate the reason China actually chose 08:08 08/08/08 for their Olympics as a matter of the "Auspicious" constraint connotated with the number which rhymes with the word "Rich" in Mandarin and almost all Chinese dialects (amazingly).

The human mind is sometimes strange to the point of absurd. I have read of certain religions treating the number 13 as unlucky due to the reason that the Most Important Person was betrayed by the 13th person in a supper. On the contrary, there are other cultures who viewed the number 14 as bad because it rhymes with the phrase "Death Assured" while number 13 as good, "Alive Assured". That is why some buildings have Level 13 and 13A but no 14. There are buildings with Level 14 but 13 seems to have disappeared.

Some people treats number 8 as unpleasant because it rhymes with "hungry". When and where will this actually end? I am looking forward to a day to see a building properly numbered from 1 to 14 and beyond without any numbers missing in between.

By the way, one does not get rich or hungry with the usage of 8 in car numbers. Neither does one die with being born on the 14th. Everything depends on effort and opportunity. The human mind seems to be not able to appease and assure themselves to be independent. The human has to do something silly or accept something absurd so that they can feel secure. This goes out to everyone in this world (not on any particular race or religion).

I end this entry by saying to all people concerned to do better things in helping Myanmar and China to deal with these calamities. Bear in mind that Luck may not help but human intervention definitely will improve matters. Let's give a helping hand instead.

This article is also published in


zewt said...

hahaha... wonder if china will come after u if anything bad really happen.

Sagaladoola said...

1) Did you read the whole article before commenting?

2) Why would China look after me if anything bad really happen, when I am actually helping them to condemn and dispel this superstition rubbish? If they are going to reward me I shall be happy.