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Luck. 1/15/2009
Nothing too exciting has been going on recently, but Eriq, Mike W., Andy, and I played a board game on Saturday and I was having terrible luck with the dice. When a player rolls the dice, one side of one of the dice has an "X" on it, resulting in a "miss." None of the other dice rolled can ever have an "X" on them, and there will always be only one die that has an "X". Therefore, every roll a player makes has a flat 1/6 (or 16.67%) chance of missing. Mike W. was tracking everyone's rolls for fun and for a while I was at an even 50/50 distribution of misses to hits. At one point, I even had more misses than hits. So anyway, Mike W. commented that I was having terrible luck, and I used a quote from The Dark Knight and said, "I make my own luck." I was just trying to be funny, but it raised the question of whether or not people can influence their "luck" by how they think.

When I was younger, I always thought I had terrible luck with everything. It always seemed to me that I would lose all games of chance (card games, etc.) regardless of what I did. My parents always told me that thinking positively would make me luckier. And it always pissed me off. From a logical standpoint, I see the concept of "luck" being defined as any situation in which the outcome is uncertain and also cannot be influenced by anyone. To keep things on track, I won't get into the whole Chaos Theory discussion - that's for another post. Anyway, for example: I'd consider rolling a die to be based on luck because I don't know what I'm going to roll, and no one can influence what I roll. If someone can influence the outcome (using weighted dice or some kind of rolling trick), then the situation ceases to be luck-based and is now based on the skill of the person influencing the outcome. At least, that's what makes sense to me. So, the idea that thinking positively makes one "luckier" seems like complete rubbish to me. It's true that thinking positively can make one try harder in situations perceived as being luck-based, but the very fact that one can influence the situation (by thinking positively or trying harder) means that it is no longer based on luck, but on the skill of the person influencing it.

So then the argument shifts into whether or not luck-based situations even exist. Some might argue that all situations can be influenced by people, no matter what. I guess I don't really have any way to refute this, but it just doesn't seem to make sense to me that thinking positively would make me roll better results on a set of dice. I'm not using any particular skill at rolling, nor am I "trying" to roll a certain outcome, so how could my thoughts influence anything? Besides, if trying to roll a certain way is considered cheating, shouldn't trying to "think" my way into rolling better also be? Isn't the idea to have the outcome be chance rather than skill?

I think the saying is intended to convince people not to give up in situations that appear to be luck-based at first glance. And I can agree that it might work for that, but I simply do not see how thinking positively can influence a situation that one has zero control over. Is it spirituality? Psionics? Force of will? Aliens? What do "you people" think? And if you respond that thinking positively can influence one's "luck", you're getting blocked from the site.

11 responses to "Luck."

Ryan
    1/15/2009 11:25:01 AM
That's really going to reduce the number of registered users, isn't it?
Luke
    1/15/2009 11:34:44 AM
I really like this explanation of luck. And that's a good Batman quote. It also points out that to make his own luck he wasn't basing his decisions on luck at all. It seems to me that luck is something that happened in the past. If I'm playing a game of chance and I win more then I lose then I would consider myself lucky after the fact. As a result luck is useless in the present and will have no influence on the outcome in a game of chance. It's as if luck is a human creation to try to control a situation or outcome that we actually have no control over. Or perhaps to place blame on mis-fortune or Lady Luck when really we can only blame ourselves and the chance we took.
NateHudd
    1/15/2009 12:40:43 PM
Mind bullets.
Greg
    1/15/2009 12:45:46 PM
That's telekinesis, Kyle.
Fergblog
    1/15/2009 4:27:54 PM
If you roll the die one million times, it will land on the "X" VERY close to 1/6 of the time. This is more likely to vary in the short run, but statistics are not wrong. Rolling a die is luck, but how you set yourself up in the game to handle what happens with the roll is how you improve your "luck." Hard to say what that means because I don't know what the game is. I was accused of being lucky on MANY occasions by my ex-girlfriend who was always jealous when I would get good jobs, do well on exams that it didn't seem like I was prepared for, find good housing situations after procrastinating for a long time, etc. She failed to see that I was always proactive with making that "luck" become a reality. So I think you're on the right track. Luck with a die is just luck, luck that can be influenced is not really luck at all. This is my favorite definition: Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
Fergblog
    1/15/2009 4:37:34 PM
Oh, I missed that the game's name is a hyperlink. It looks complicated enough that I bet the die roll is not necessarily the end-all.
grapplegabbler
    1/15/2009 11:17:57 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maBJzJgYjto
MajinAce
    1/19/2009 11:39:54 PM
They way you're putting things above, I would say that I don't believe in luck. I believe thinking with a positive and negative attitude will have some influence on your outcome. Logically it makes no sense, but I'm not really good at explaining why I think things work this way... I can dig up a few good books that explain it pretty well though. I think if nothing else you should look at your own (bad) luck as proof that the way you think can have some influence on what the outcome of things will be. I think your brother tends to expect to win things that should be 'luck'... that's why he always calls tails on a coin flip... and he usually gets it.
Greg
    1/20/2009 10:05:00 AM
Blocked.
Ryan
    1/20/2009 11:13:14 AM
That took longer than I thought.
Eric
    1/27/2009 1:36:44 AM
Mike, you are 100% wrong. Sorry, but you are. However, I have seen your bad luck Greg, (yes you have bad luck) escalate into situations where your luck has little consequence. Your dire attitude towards luck does not affect your luck directly, but it does affect things not determined by luck. You can't base a decision off "your" luck, you have to base a decision off probability and reward or consequence. And I am a firm believer that the more times you are affected by luck, the closer to the medium you will get. So telling yourself "I'm going to fail this roll" is not a good idea because if you don't roll, you won't be getting closer to that medium. The further from the medium you are, (in your circumstance) the more unlucky I think you will be.



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