In spite of hosts of deniers, and asserters, and wise-men, and professors, the majority still are adverse to sitting down to dine thirteen at a table, or being helped to salt, or walking under a ladder, of seeing a single magpie flirting his chequered tale.
One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for Gold
Seven for a secret
Never to be told
Walking, to cool down after a run, I saw a magpie. I automatically looked around to try and find another, thinking 'One for sorrow, two for joy...' Nothing. I immediately berated my self for looking for the second magpie and then suddenly twisted my ankle and fell to the ground.
To the superstitious this would be proof of the 'One for sorrow' premonition.
To others this proves that if you are too busy looking for a magpie, to look where you are going, you are more likely to trip over an uneven pavement stone, twist your ankle and fall to the ground.
This is Merton's 'self-fulfilling prophecy' at work here (1948). As he put it, 'definitions of a situation (prophecies or predictions) become an integral part of the situation and thus affect subsequent development' (p.195).
So yes one magpie was unlucky for me - but only because I went looking for the second.'The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true' (Ibid).