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Black Cats and Bad Luck

Are black cats really associated bad luck? This furry friend seems to get a lot of negative press around the Halloween season. They appear in movies and are often associated with bad luck and negative superstitions. I was surprised to learn that black cats are the most frequently under adopted cat by color. They get a bad rap and are even considered evil due to the way their eye color offsets their black hair especially when seen at night. For those who love cats, we love black cats with the same joy and admiration as a fluffy white or orange tabby. Still, many of us have had this reaction when a black cat runs out in front of us, “I hope it’s not bad luck”. Let’s take a closer look at this question about luck and probability before making a determination about seeing a black cat as being good or bad luck!

When it comes to the probability of seeing a black cat out randomly, the numbers suggest something other than bad luck. If for example a person sees a black cat once a year or once every 365 days this is a probability of 0.0027. Let’s say for example that we believe that black cats are more prevalent and therefore more likely to be seen in the month of October once every 31 days, this corresponds to a probability of 0.0323. The definition of a probability indicates the likelihood of an event occurring. It also tells you the probability or likelihood of an event not taking place (referred to as complementary probability). Therefore, even in the month of October the probability of not seeing a black cat is 0.9677 or approximately 97%. Are black cats bad luck? It is hard to say for sure, but if you only see one once a month or once a year then you are less likely to have bad luck as a result!

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