It’s Friday the 13th. An ominous day to start a new blog. Well, it would be if luck was real.
It’s amazing how much the idea of luck infects our thinking. We’ve all seen a cheesy meme with a vague promise of ‘good things’ that will happen if you ‘like and share’ and bad things that happen to those who ignore its dire warning. Casinos are filled with people pulling slot machine handles. Sports fans and participants alike have been known to sport lucky underwear that helps their team come out on top.
If you look, you’ll find references to luck everywhere. Try your luck. Your lucky break. Down on your luck. No such luck. Serendipity. Wish me luck. Dree your weird. Fortune. Fate. Destiny. Our language is full of luck-based idioms. It permeates our literature, film, and even products from cigarettes to jeans.
I’m guilty too. I’ve avoided stepping on cracks and tossed salt over my shoulder and crossed my fingers and any number of things that must seem completely silly to anyone not raised with similar rituals. I used to say ‘Good luck!’ so frequently that it was practically my catch phrase.
Why? I wasn’t superstitious. I didn’t think it really helped, so what was I doing it for? The answer was really another question. Why not? What does it hurt? If luck is real, then you’re doing yourself a favor and if not, you don’t really lose much by keeping your umbrella closed indoors, right? It’s Pascal’s Wager lite, if you will. You can hedge your bets at a low (but non-zero) cost.
This seems like a great plan until you raise the stakes. Buy a lottery ticket? No real impact. Buy ten? A hundred? A thousand? The math says you will generally lose, but a person who thinks they are lucky will take that bet. Fortunes, lives and whole empires have been gambled and sometimes lost because someone believed in their own luck.
Luck is pure slag – i.e. the exact opposite of useful. Countless scientific experiments have shown that luck simply doesn’t exist. Instead, we have found that random chance actually follows mathematical rules and that what we tend to think of as extremely unlikely events are actually inevitable and perfectly normal.
Believing in luck is not just useless, it’s actually dangerous. The real cost of this kind of thinking is not just in the wasted time one person spends on them. Ideas move from person to person and spread like pinkeye to undefended minds – particularly those of the young and gullible. Accepting such wrong ideas leads to a general acceptance of actions that show a lack of critical thinking, not just regarding the laws of probability, but in all facets of life.
You can’t summon this post with a magic spell. It will never come to you though direct revelation. Technology is the only way. Technology is based on science and the basis of science is reason and logic. You can read this right now because science, logic and reason are our greatest tools.
I have a lack of patience for bad ideas. Apparently, frustration with stupidity is a good way to motivate me to write. This lack of patience shows up as unflattering treatment of those who keep blunt and useless tools in their mental arsenal. This is intentional. The surest way of changing a bad behavior is for society to heap disrespect on it.
Luck is an idea that deserves to be ridiculed. Displaying such a lack of critical thinking in public should be treated as the mental equivalent of picking your nose. It’s up to you. Point and laugh. Break their balls. Make them feel foolish. You’re doing them and everyone else a favor. Don’t let bad ideas spread to make someone else dumber. Luck has had a frighteningly long run and it’s time for it to go.