27 February 2012
Luck, Luck, Luck!*
Dilbert 14 January 1998
I was thinking the other day about luck. It's always been that I've never believed in luck, but now it seems like there are really is something to it. What got me thinking was the unlikelihood of the other options. Put simply, every event in the universe can be a result of:
1. The micromanagement of a Grand Organizing Designer
2. Completely random
3. Willed action
4. Deterministic processes
5. Some combination of the above
Is that really all there is to it? Do we make our own luck or is it all just shit happening? How many of the above possibilities actually exist? The answers to those questions depend on who you ask.
Epiphionominalists and a lot of the "new atheists" like Will Provine (the refreshingly honest one) will reject #3 outright. There is no mind so there is no will. Neither is there God, so shit happens that can either be determined or cannot. Other, theistic determinists will reject #3, and, depending on their degree of hardness, #2 and #4 as well. They assert that God pulls all the strings, guiding everything from which atom slams into which atom to who steps out into traffic at the wrong time and gets wacked by a bus.
Some things don't seem explainable by any of the above in a convincing way. It may be necessary to add a few possibilities to the list, such as 6. Psychic functions, and 7. Luck. Here are two examples from personal experience that may necessitate these additions.
Today at roughly 5:50PM I began thinking about vending machines for no obvious reason. Vending machines of all types and in particular machines that dispense sandwiches and beer. After getting started cooking I turned on the television. The History Channel was on and it was Modern Marvels, and it was the episode on vending machines and other coin operated devices. Some scofftics will say "coincidence!1" Okay, well, how much of a coincidence is it when such a thing recurrs regularly? When I watched the reruns of King of the Hill I frequently knew which episode would air before turning on the television. Throughout the day I would think of jokes from a particular episode, and most of the time that happened I was right about which episode would air later in the night. Scofftics will shout even louder "Coincidence!!!!!1" When asked, well how many times does it need to happen before you'll consider it's not a coincidence? The scofftics will shout even louderer "EVERYTHING IS COINCIDENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111"
Precog experiments have demonstrated the actual existence of psychic functions like this. It doesn't matter if someone shouts loudly that the sky is pink and green stripes, that doesn't change the fact that it's blue, just like no matter how much the skep-dicks lie that doesn't change reality to suit their wants.
Then there's luck, which I not think is akin to Sheldrake's morphic fields. Why do some people have good luck and some people have rotten luck? What is luck and how do you explain it? Well, Rupert Sheldrake made famous the concept of fields of information that affect how the universe works. An example of a morphic field might be a type of crystal formation. Say that the odds of a certain type of crystal forming is really low. Well, one crystal beats the odds and forms, and that act of forming leaves an imprint on the fabric of the universe that changes the odds. Now, since that one crystal formed it is slightly more likely that a similar crystal will form. This happens a couple hundred times and now the odds of similar crystals forming are much better because the morphic field has built up by all the previous generations of crystals.
Luck might work the same way. The more good luck someone has the more it is reinforcing the good luck morphic field built up by that person and the better luck they get. The same works in reverse. This is why it may be very difficult in deed to change your luck if you've built it up very strongly over time in either direction, good or bad. Changing your luck would require changing the field which may be accessed at a subconscious level. Doing this may involve "reprogramming" your subconscious thought processes, which is notoriously difficult to do consciously.
Of course this is all just specualtion at this point. Someone would need to develop an experiment to test lucky and unlucky people and see how luck changes over time. Until then we'll just have to hold off judgment.
*Said like a chicken.