Researcher Richard Wiseman studies how to be lucky. He says lucky charms do work, but only because people believe in them. Some people believe in them so much, they use voo doo to try to influence the outcomes of trials.

Rachel Williams writes in the Pennsylvania News that Wiseman found that carrying a luck charm had no effect on whether or not people chose winning lottery numbers, despite the fact that 30% of the people he tested thought their luck had improved. At the end of the study, 70% said they’d continue to carry the lucky charm with them.

Four-leaf clovers as good luck charms were first carried by the Druids. Horseshoes were once thought to repel witches, because their crescent shape resembles a new moon. Note: They should be hung above doors with the ends pointing up so the luck doesn’t run out.

The tradition of pulling the wishbone and hoping to get the larger piece goes back to the old belief of the magical power of the horned moon and the horned pagan god, which the wishbone resembles.

In ancient African culture, carrying the foot of a fast creature, like a rabbit, is supposed to help a person escape or flee with the speed of the animal. Slaves first brought this concept to the U.S.

Lucky charms aren’t always effective: a prisoner was convicted of money laundering, despite voo doo magic being used to influence the verdict. DA Richard Gregorie complained during the trial of Juan Carlos Elso that his clothes were being ruined by voodoo powder that was being scattered on his chair, so Florida Judge Patricia Seitz ordered the courtroom vacuumed and locked. Ian Ball writes in The Telegraph that the dust didn’t work, since the jury convicted Elso of laundering money for drug dealers.

Voo doo practitioners have tried to influence other trials as well. The courthouse has a special janitorial crew called “the Voodoo Squad” that regularly cleans up sacrifices, such as dead chickens, roosters and goats.

Did Roman explorers leave their lucky charms in a cave in Illinois? Read this extraordinary tale of adventure for yourself!

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