Nugget of Knowledge: “Rule of Three” celebrity deaths

The so-called "rule of three" comes from the our need to find a pattern

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – George Michael, then Carrie Fisher, then Debbie Reynolds.

It’s the¬†Celebrity Death Rule of Threes – when one of our stars dies, two more tend to follow.

The most famous example might be 2009’s Summer of Death: Ed McMahon on June 23, Farrah Fawcett on June 25, and a few hours later that day, of course, Michael Jackson.

But skeptics such as Michael Shermer of “Skeptic” magazine and author of “The Believing Brain” says there is no pattern. Not even a real “rule” to the Rule of Threes.

Do the deaths have to come six hours apart?

Six days? Three weeks?

And who’s a celebrity?

Psychologists say humans look for patterns, even when there is none.

They say patterns in death, patterns in misfortune, they help us try to understand the universe. We don’t like dealing with randomness.

And there’s something special about the number three in our culture: we have three bears, three blind mice, rock-paper-scissors, “blood, sweat and tears,” or “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

We have bronze, silver and gold medals; and Christians have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

But it’s just our brains looking for patterns.

Besides, here’s number four: longtime “General Hospital” actress Barbara Tarbuck has died. She was 74.

Tarbuck played Jane Jacks on “General Hospital,” she was in “American Horror Story” and the original 1980s Broadway production of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”

Or is it five?

Alan Thicke died December 13.

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