Got A Fear Of Odd Numbers Like Ellyse Perry? Well It's Totally Normal, Says Maths Guru
Who knew imparnumerophobia was a thing?
At first, we thought this was silly. But the more we looked into it, the more it started to make sense.
This is about Ellyse Perry -- who lately has been the best-performed Australian international cricketer of either sex -- and her bizarre numbers problem.
Perry, it seems, cannot stand odd numbers. At all. In fact she hates them. They spook her. "Odd numbers, eek!" says Perry.
** Shudder **
We thought this was strange as hell but we soon found others who share her phobia.
Oh, it's a thing, all right.
But why is this a thing, and what thing exactly is it? There was only one person to call so we called him.
Adam Spencer is a broadcaster, sports lover, mathematician and author of books about numbers. You can read all about him and his excellent top 100 book here.
Spencer us that there's a thing called imparnumerophobia -- which is the fear of odd numbers. Yes, that's actually a condition or an affliction or whatever it is.
Ellyse Perry, you are not alone!
The obvious follow-up question is why. Why would anyone have a fear of odd numbers -- as opposed to something more sensible like a fear of spiders or scorpions or mathematicians?
In the video posted by the Australian women's cricket team, Perry said she doesn't know. But according to Spencer, it's likely that Perry developed a bad association with odd numbers at some point in her career.
We don't know when or what exactly triggered it. Maybe she was run out on 99 one day or something. But whatever the reason, Spencer said that "confirmation bias" then kicks in.
"You know when you're in a hurry and you seem to get all the red lights? Well, you don't actually get the reds, but you believe that you do," Spencer explained.
The same thing can happen to sportspeople who wear numbered shirts and look up all day at numbered scoreboards. They come to convince themselves that a certain number, or type of numbers, brings bad things.
The classic cricket example is 87, which has long been considered a death trap for batters because it's 13 away from the century. In truth, says Spencer, batters are more likely to get out for almost any other number in the 80s.
For the record, Spencer himself is prone to a little imparnumerophobia.
"My favourite number is 4. It's the first number I fell in love with," he said.
"If the volume is on 51 I'll knock it up to 52 because that's a multiple of 4. If the brightness on the TV is 37, I'll reduce it 36 for the same reason."
So even people who should know better are prone to a little superstition. Maybe that's just how we're wired.
Meanwhile, we're sure Ellyse Perry will be relieved to learn that the next two Australian team games are on even-numbered dates. Phew.