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Captain Kidd
2005-Mar-16, 01:57 PM
mickal555ís post on the BA Blog thread made me think some. And I have no work; everything is on hold. Iím sitting here bored to tears.

I can understand how some people can buy into the pseudo stuff without putting much thought into it. Jinxes for example.

I've had the same coffee maker for almost ten years. Sunday I commented on how long we've had it and how it's averaged over a pot a day and still was working great.* Monday it completely died. So did I jinx it Sunday and cause it to break the next time we ran it (on Monday)?

However, thatís just one statement out of dozens I said on Sunday alone. None of the others came true, or had the opposite happen.

I can see how knocking on wood, blessing people after they sneeze, etc. came about. It seems only the statements that actually have something occur following them are remembered. Yet they make up only a small fraction of the total number of things said and done that could have "mystical" consequences.

William Shakespeare said, ďThe evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.Ē It seems a variant is true with statements. The ones that seem to predict or to have the opposite happen (i.e. jinx) are remembered while the dozens that have nothing happen are forgotten, thus seeming to lend credence to old wivesí tales and warnings about being careful about what you say and do.

Same with pseudoscience items like astrology and psychics. A lot of people remember what they want to remember adn they'll happily tell how the card/palm reader was right-on about their stocks/love life/whatever while neglecting to tell about how wrong they were about their stocks/love life/whatever from a diferent visit, or even the same one. This has the effect of burying all the predictions that didnít and emphasizing the ones that did. Plus thereís the shotgun versus rifle effect; the more spread you have, the bigger chance of hitting something.

Educate them all you want. They (well a lot) will agree and even understand, but as soon as something happens again, many will return to that way of thinking.

Itís almost ingrained in us to be superstitious. Iíll often catch myself commenting on how somethingís a work of karma or a jinx; Iím joking, but stillÖ

For example. Our baby is great (yeah, yeah, everybodyís child is to them). But seriously, he started sleeping through the night extremely early, has no problems and even enjoys riding in his car seat, can entertain himself for a long time without having to be directly interacted with, etc. Heís right up there on the Little Angel chart (we even have the quiz to prove it. ;) ). We joke that thereís no way weíre going to have a second child because we used up all of our good kid karma on him and if we have another, itíll end up being colicky, clingy, hate riding in the car, etc. Itís a joke, but every time I make it, thereís this annoying, quiet little voice deep inside that says ďwhat if?Ē

Maybe one day people/society will develop to the point that thoseÖ base instincts(?) are gone. But I think itís still a far ways away. Thatís not to say that I think itís worthless to try to educate people. Itís a good fight that needs to be fought. Every person that learns the truth will help hurry the development.

Anyways thatís just my thoughts on the matter during a dead hour (day) at work.

Oh yeah the coffee maker:

*The beeper signaling the end of the brew cycle had been on the fritz for a few weeks. Sometimes itíd work, sometimes itíd not beep at all, and sometimes it did a really sick sounding rattle-beep-buzz. So I had warning signs something was amiss. But adding that to the above lessens the wow factor of my jinxed comment. ;)

Laguna
2005-Mar-16, 02:07 PM
We joke that thereís no way weíre going to have a second child because we used up all of our good kid karma on him and if we have another, itíll end up being colicky, clingy, hate riding in the car, etc. Itís a joke, but every time I make it, thereís this annoying, quiet little voice deep inside that says ďwhat if?Ē

I can tell you. We tried out.
My daughter was also way up on that angel list. My son is way down...
I canīt remember the last night with more than 4 hours of sleep.
Must have been before January 21st. :D

Sam5
2005-Mar-16, 02:38 PM
mickal555’s post on the BA Blog thread made me think some. And I have no work; everything is on hold. I’m sitting here bored to tears.

I can understand how some people can buy into the pseudo stuff without putting much thought into it. Jinxes for example.

I've had the same coffee maker for almost ten years. Sunday I commented on how long we've had it and how it's averaged over a pot a day and still was working great.* Monday it completely died. So did I jinx it Sunday and cause it to break the next time we ran it (on Monday)?

No, that is a myth. I think it works like this: We say billions of things during our lifetime. Sooner or later something we say will coincide with something that happens around us. But this is only coincidence.

I tend to leave the TV on all the time with news programs on the air, even while I read. Every year or so I will be reading some unusual word or about some unusual topic, at the same time some guy on TV will start talking about that very same topic. After a lifetime of doing this and noticing this, I figure it is just a “random chance” sort of thing. For example, I might be reading about Palenque in Mexico, and all of a sudden a documentary comes on TV about Palenque. That’s just a random coincidence. The more a person reads while news and documentary programs are playing on TV, the more likely that sooner or later such a coincidence will happen.

By the way, I’ve got a coffee maker that is about 15 years old. It still works fine.

gethen
2005-Mar-16, 02:39 PM
This reminds me of something that happened almost 30 years ago. My sister-in-law found out she was pregnant. She was not happy. Her youngest child was 12 at the time and she just wasn't prepared for another baby and said so a few times. When she delivered it was found that the child had Downe's Syndrome. My sister-in-law blamed herself for "cursing" the child, and so did some others. That's where all those silly beliefs can really hurt people. She will never get over it.

Captain Kidd
2005-Mar-16, 03:30 PM
mickal555ís post on the BA Blog thread made me think some. And I have no work; everything is on hold. Iím sitting here bored to tears.

I can understand how some people can buy into the pseudo stuff without putting much thought into it. Jinxes for example.

I've had the same coffee maker for almost ten years. Sunday I commented on how long we've had it and how it's averaged over a pot a day and still was working great.* Monday it completely died. So did I jinx it Sunday and cause it to break the next time we ran it (on Monday)?

No, that is a myth. I think it works like this: We say billions of things during our lifetime. Sooner or later something we say will coincide with something that happens around us. But this is only coincidence.

Yeah, I kinda said that with my next sentence...

Lance
2005-Mar-16, 03:39 PM
By the way, Iíve got a coffee maker that is about 15 years old. It still works fine.

And if it dies tomorrow, you will let us know?

Sam5
2005-Mar-16, 03:41 PM
By the way, I’ve got a coffee maker that is about 15 years old. It still works fine.

And if it dies tomorrow, you will let us know?

Yes, but I've got my fingers crossed, knock on wood.

SciFi Chick
2005-Mar-16, 03:55 PM
I can't tell you how many times I've had to listen to people tell me that I will find love as soon as I'm not looking.

The fact that there have been many times in my life when I was not looking just earns a smile and a knowing nod.

When I finally do fall in love, I'm sure I'll have to hear dozens of people tell me that it was the right timing.

All you folks that found love while you were looking for it - must not really be love. :wink:

publiusr
2005-Mar-16, 06:43 PM
I have felt myself being stared out, turned around and..saw people following me.

Even rocket engineers have superstitions. There was going to be a West Coast Shuttle pad. That facility is called SLC-6, and that site has had a curse on it for as long as I can remember. Anything that launches from it is jinxed. The Athena was an early victim, and now the dog of a rocket that is the Delta IV.

To quote Bill Cosby Himself, "That curse works."

That and the Korolov/N-1 curse. No N-1 ever worked, and now Kistler is using its engines.

Glushko's Zenit engines have little such trouble.

That is why both Boeing and LockMart use the RD-170s/RD-180s.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-16, 07:05 PM
I can't tell you how many times I've had to listen to people tell me that I will find love as soon as I'm not looking.

The fact that there have been many times in my life when I was not looking just earns a smile and a knowing nod.

When I finally do fall in love, I'm sure I'll have to hear dozens of people tell me that it was the right timing.

All you folks that found love while you were looking for it - must not really be love. :wink:
It's possible that looking for love may have an effect on your attitude that makes you less attractive to others. At least, I know I tend to be more attracted to people who seem very satisfied and not lacking anything in their lives. If most other people are like me in that respect, then there is at least a plausible mechanism for that old superstition. I'm not arguing that it's true, just that it's possible within reason that it could be true. I don't know if anyone has ever attempted to study this.

I think the tendency to make too much of coincidence is a side effect of the way our brains work. We are very good at seeing patterns. Our pattern detection is so sensitive that we get false positives, seeing patterns that aren't really there. We are not wired very well for understanding the nature of probability. If you tell people to make random dots on a piece of paper, most people will draw a scattering of relatively evenly spaced dots. But a truly random scattering of dots results in clumps and "constellations" that look like ordered patterns. (I forget precisely where I got this example, but I think it was in something Stephen Jay Gould wrote.)

mickal555
2005-Apr-13, 06:59 AM
mickal555ís post on the BA Blog thread made me think some. And I have no work; everything is on hold. Iím sitting here bored to tears.

I can understand how some people can buy into the pseudo stuff without putting much thought into it. Jinxes for example.

I've had the same coffee maker for almost ten years. Sunday I commented on how long we've had it and how it's averaged over a pot a day and still was working great.* Monday it completely died. So did I jinx it Sunday and cause it to break the next time we ran it (on Monday)?

No, that is a myth. I think it works like this: We say billions of things during our lifetime. Sooner or later something we say will coincide with something that happens around us. But this is only coincidence.

I tend to leave the TV on all the time with news programs on the air, even while I read. Every year or so I will be reading some unusual word or about some unusual topic, at the same time some guy on TV will start talking about that very same topic. After a lifetime of doing this and noticing this, I figure it is just a ďrandom chanceĒ sort of thing. For example, I might be reading about Palenque in Mexico, and all of a sudden a documentary comes on TV about Palenque. Thatís just a random coincidence. The more a person reads while news and documentary programs are playing on TV, the more likely that sooner or later such a coincidence will happen.

By the way, Iíve got a coffee maker that is about 15 years old. It still works fine.
Same thing somethimes happens to me, once I was waiting for myth busters to come on, so in the meantime I was reading snopes.com, and the very myth I was reading about, was the one they did.


mickal555ís post on the BA Blog thread made me think some. And I have no work; everything is on hold. Iím sitting here bored to tears.

I found this thread after seaching my name....

Cool, I was refered too, what post of mine?

AGN Fuel
2005-Apr-13, 07:20 AM
I vaguely remember an old Charlie Brown comic, where Charlie Brown is getting ready for a softball game. It went something like...

CB: 'I always put my left shoe on first, because that brings me good luck.'

Linus (as he leaves the room): 'Does it? How many games have you won so far this year?'

CB: (Dumbfounded expression)

Much later.....

Lucy (enters room): 'What's wrong with you, Charlie Brown?? We play in 5 minutes and you haven't even got your shoes on yet!'

Maksutov
2005-Apr-13, 07:50 AM
I can't tell you how many times I've had to listen to people tell me that I will find love as soon as I'm not looking.

The fact that there have been many times in my life when I was not looking just earns a smile and a knowing nod.

When I finally do fall in love, I'm sure I'll have to hear dozens of people tell me that it was the right timing.

All you folks that found love while you were looking for it - must not really be love. :wink:
Love? Love, love, hmm, let's see... (checks Thurber dictionary)...oh yeah, got it right here,


Love Pronunciation: (luv), n., The temporary cessation of the war between men and women. Usually results in the creation of more men and women who will perpetuate the war.

SciFi Chick
2005-Apr-13, 12:24 PM
Speaking of love - I love that definition. :D

Doe, John
2005-Apr-14, 02:58 AM
I tend to leave the TV on all the time with news programs on the air, even while I read. Every year or so I will be reading some unusual word or about some unusual topic, at the same time some guy on TV will start talking about that very same topic. After a lifetime of doing this and noticing this, I figure it is just a ďrandom chanceĒ sort of thing. For example, I might be reading about Palenque in Mexico, and all of a sudden a documentary comes on TV about Palenque. Thatís just a random coincidence. The more a person reads while news and documentary programs are playing on TV, the more likely that sooner or later such a coincidence will happen.

Also the times when say for example you were reading about Winston Churchill and a show about Howard Hughes came on are ignored because there was no noticable synchronicity.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Apr-14, 07:50 AM
Also the times when say for example you were reading about Winston Churchill and a show about Howard Hughes came on are ignored because there was no noticable synchronicity.
What about the times when you were reading about Wyatt Earp and a show about law and order came on? :)

Captain Kidd
2005-Apr-14, 11:39 AM
.I found this thread after seaching my name....

Cool, I was refered too, what post of mine?
Gah beats me, I think it was the thread glom started about BA's blog...
You're going to make me go look aren't you?
Can't... resist...

OK, I think I found it... it might have been this one (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=436046&#436046).

Matherly
2005-Apr-14, 04:14 PM
In my oh-so-humble opinion...

I think the jinx thing (which I know I say, even if tounge in cheek ala "well, I just jinxed it") is an attempt to bring some control to our lives. If we feel that we somehow caused something bad to happen it is easier for us to accept the consequences than if it had been random.

The opposite would be to embrace a random Univese, which can be thereputic in its own way. As Marcus Cole said on Babylon 5 "I used to complain that the Universe wasn't fair. Then I though, what if the Universe was fair and all the awful things that happened to us were our fault. Now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe" (quoted from memory, so please for give any innaccuracies).

General Zod
2005-Apr-14, 05:22 PM
I think the jinx thing (which I know I say, even if tounge in cheek ala "well, I just jinxed it") is an attempt to bring some control to our lives. If we feel that we somehow caused something bad to happen it is easier for us to accept the consequences than if it had been random.

Hmm, the side of me that is a hardcore Behaviorist would agree with that. The weird side to me (which seems to grow more powerful every day) has a tendency to lean toward the Power of Intention.

fossilnut2
2005-Apr-14, 07:23 PM
In my oh-so-humble opinion...

"I used to complain that the Universe wasn't fair. Then I though, what if the Universe was fair and all the awful things that happened to us were our fault. Now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the Universe" (quoted from memory, so please for give any innaccuracies).

Almost all religious practice from the earliest has been based on things being our fault if they go wrong. We didn't appease a god with enough sacrifice or didn't give thanks to some spirit for the kill of the hunt, etc. God gets angry and sends a flood or Santa Claus doesn't leave a present because we are bad. Everything from the Bible through the Illiad through Mayan carvings all have a common thread of man attempting to please the gods or saints or whoever to bring about prosperity and avoid bad stuff happening.

Humans have a hard time accepting that a lightning bolt was just as likely of striking Mother Theresa dead as Adolph Hitler (well, at least if she was wearing 8" heels).