A British author named Alex Bellos recently put out a book on lucky numbers and while I didn't read it -- books, am I right? -- I DID read the results of a study he put out. I'm not sure how much he'd appreciate that, so here's a plug: His book is called Alex Through the Looking Glass in the U.K. and The Grapes of Math in the U.S. because Americans Love Puns.
Alex ran a 30,000-person worldwide survey to compile a list of the luckiest numbers in the world. The full results are on an Excel spreadsheet here. (That link is included basically only for my friend Nathan, who will click and run his own analysis due to severe data addiction.)
I pulled out the top 11 and loosely reasoned out why they're popular. These are the 11 most popular lucky numbers in the world...
Featuring Kelly Clarkson's Stronger!
42 - This is the second-largest number in the top 30 (69 came in 30th, to demonstrate the strength of the world's pervert voting bloc). Depending on where your perspective lies, you either attributed 42's success to either Hitchhiker's Guide or Jackie Robinson.
11 - As one of the world's foremost supporters of the number 11, I'm proud it finished so well. But as THE world's foremost supporter of the concept that top 10s are for cowards, 11 making the top 10 has sent me into a recursive loop of pride and shame.
2 - 2 is kind of an odd choice for a lucky number, although apparently it's good luck in China. Since this was a worldwide survey, it's entirely possible that's how 2 made it so high on the list -- no one pounds a ballot box like the Chinese. (I mean, um, not in their own elections... but in online polls they're ravenous.) Number 2 finishing this high is like the "Yao Ming in the All-Star Game even though he's averaging 4 and 2" of the lucky numbers list.
6 - Apparently there's a cologne called Lucky Number 6 by Liz Claiborne. That's the only evidence I've found linking the concepts of "lucky number" and "6"... and with all due respect to Liz Claiborne, I'm not sure her cologne's Q-score was what drove this number up the list. And since I'm also not willing to attribute its popularity to the bright shining star of Jenna von Oy, I think it was Chinese culture again -- 6 is another of their lucky numbers, tied to wealth.
9 - According to the Internet, 9 is the big lucky number in Norway because of its prominence in Norse mythology. There are nine realms in Norse mythology (and occasionally Natalie Portman disappears into them when they're all aligned).
13 - 13 is the most common unlucky number in most western cultures, so I think we can attribute its popularity to people being contrary. The Internet was essentially founded on its ability to let people be rebellious in a low stakes, consequence-free way.
5 - 5 is yet another lucky number in Chinese culture. There's certainly nothing that could happen now to dissuade me from believing this list was entirely influenced by China's lucky numbers.
4 - Let's research it. 4 is an UNlucky number in... oh my... China. My underlying thesis has been shattered! Time to do what all the other good researchers do: Ignore this finding and press on with confirmation bias galore.
8 - 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture (and Japanese culture) because the pronunciation is similiar to the word for prosperity and wealth. Just like I said -- China totally influenced this list and I have no evidence (that I'm paying attention to) to the contrary.
3 - Three is a fairly logical choice for a lucky number. They say good things come in threes, like comedy punchlines, good iterations of Destiny's Child and celebrity deaths.
7 - Seven's a ubiquitous lucky number in the western world, so it was a near shoo-in for the number one spot on the list. From slot machines to George Costanza baby names, everyone wants to be part of sevens. And to make sure it stays that way, I won't even look up China's feelings on the number 7.
A few other results from the study: The least-lucky number is 110 -- it's the lowest whole number that got zero votes... pi came in 18th... as stated earlier, 69 came in 30th, so clearly he asked THAT demographic... infinity came in 84th... 5318008 (aka BOOBIES when you turn the calculator upside-down) came in 108th... 420 came in 115th, so clearly he didn't ask THAT demographic... 1234, the code on your luggage, came in 117th... and 8675309 got two votes, putting it in a massive tie for 249th place.
This post was originally published on Friday, June 6, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Travel.