Why is Macbeth unlucky

Is Macbeth Cursed?

I'll just go ahead and start with: No . Unfortunately, this cannot really be scientifically backed up ... but that is because it is not scientifically stated. It could theoretically be statistically backed up by globally comparing the proportion of Macbeth performances with problems compared to those without and then to the number of other games with problems with those without, but ... that is ... well, easy to a lot of data. And as far as I can tell (and as far as Skeptoid can tell) it doesn't exist. It would be an enormous investment of time to refute something for which there is no scientific evidence at all.

The problem is you are asking for ... a curse. There's a big guess here, and there are curses. In order to prove that something exists or does not exist, one must be able to point out an observable phenomenon and ascribe it to a natural mechanism. We have neither an observable phenomenon nor a mechanism by which to understand it. It is the same problem with questions about God or other deities: we can believe and believe, but there are no scientific, empirical studies or experiments that can be done to prove their existence or to refute. Such a thing is tautological proof: it is because it is.

It is related to the assumption that witches of the time - in whatever form they existed or didn't exist - could actually cast such a curse. Again, we have no way of proving this (or knowing that witches were present, or that Shakespeare got his information from witches, or what story to believe. Very few of these earlier stories can be quoted, as Skeptoid explains above) . . There is a good question here about black magic among skeptics who conclude that it is not real, but even for this type of claim it is almost impossible to "really" disprove it, since you can get non-phenomena with more Refuted non-phenomena.

However, if this is really a curse, we'll call it what it is: a curse of bad luck (the two are pretty synonymous anyway). But Happiness is just a human construct that we create to find patterns and order between otherwise unrelated events . And in the end, that's all: unrelated events.

If a rumor goes on for as long as Lagerbaer said in the comments, it creates a pretty powerful, self-fulfilling prophecy. People will look for problems in one place, ignore them in another, and cry out loud when they arise. What really needs to be asked is, "Are these events, true or false, atypical?" We're talking about one of the world's most popular plays / stories that has been performed for over 400 years. How many thousands, hundreds of thousands of performances is that? Google "Macbeth Performances" and find nearly nine million hits. Of course, they are not all unique or useful, but this is a large-scale exercise. Let's say Macbeth is only performed once a year. There are 27 instances noted in your source document, but even 27 out of 400 terrible incidents are only 6.75%. Is the margin for accidents during stage performances worldwide so drastically below 6.75% that this is considered bad luck?

When looking for a curse, one also associates mishaps with an event that would otherwise have no relevant place in the context of that event (and is certainly by no means demonstrably causal). England was hit by an extremely violent storm on the day the production opened. So? What other billions of actions were taken that day and why didn't they cause the storm? Lincoln read Macbeth a week before his death ... and? It's not even about stage productions, which means any of us could get knocked down for a 9th grade reading assignment.

We're looking for a pattern that isn't there, that's all.

In more funny news, while looking for the Curse of Macbeth, I first accidentally searched for the "Curse of the Hamlet" and came across this little gem that seems appropriate in the name (given the questioner's name) here, although it certainly has no meaning (However, choosing to believe in curses will surely help set a very old precedent).

Strange thinking ♦

Note: This answer was submitted very early in the life of Skeptic.SE, before we had our current community standards set. If submitted today, it would likely be removed or downgraded as a theoretical answer rather than empirical evidence.