The illusion of chance

I never worried about the number of languages dying out. After all, the OED surely contains every descriptive word. Well, no, it doesn’t have a word for one of those days when one unlucky thing happens after the next. Unluckaday? Not that I’m describing anything major like being in a freak accident, but the things that no one except the subject thinks even matters (though often starting from something so eminently avoidable but for a second or two of misjudgement). OK, so it’s tempting to look for a pattern where none exists.

In my novel The Hidden Realm I’ve explored the nature of luck, particularly if good fortune were handed to you: your numbers came up, you met that fantasy lover, or just the kind of positive happenstance that occurs beyond the norm. The question I wondered and continue to explore in The Captured: how real can it seem? Is there a point when it falls apart, and your mind rejects it. But can there be such a thing as taking the blue pill (Matrix reference) and just buying into a utopian lie. It may mean sacrificing an element of your mental process.

An experiment was conducted to show how chance is understood. A group of people tried to fake random coin flips against those who did it for real. The faked results almost without exception underestimated the long runs of heads or tails of the genuine, thinking randomness should give a more even spread. But really there is no such thing as true randomness with anything that can be studied. Even with the lottery if you were to observe with enough precision the way the balls in the machine moved about you’d know which ones would be selected, even theoretically from the first second. Or a roulette wheel … Well, you get the picture.

So is bad luck avoidable from the things you can observe? No. I found however careful I was there’d always be that occurrence that I never could have envisaged (the information is not available). And yet, I’ve noticed how procrastination leads to bad luck, perhaps over-thinking a decision. But then we never know if what initially seems unlucky ultimately turns out to have a positive consequence.

Finally, on the serious scale, there are the cases where people who’ve sensed/dreamt of a disaster before it happens. So maybe that’s evidence that we are in a simulated reality, where that out-of-sight information is available – when there’s a short circuit in the system or glitch in the program.

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