Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Are you feeling lucky?

I've only just started this book but its already confusing me.

Richard Wiseman gives some examples of lucky people including a few people who've won large amounts in lotteries more than once, e.g. Donald Smith winning $250,000 three times in the Wisconsin State Lottery (May '93, June '94, July '95) or Evelyn Marie Adams winning $4 million then four months later another $1.5 million in the New Jersey Lottery.

He then attracts a load of people who consider themselves either lucky or unlucky to do an experiment with the UK National Lottery.

The idea is to see if they are lucky because they are "psychic".

The outcome is that of the 700 who take part only 36 win anything in the week of the experiment. These people are evenly distributed between the "lucky" and the "unlucky" groups. His conclusion is that being lucky has nothing to with being psychic.

My conclusion is different. In fact this experiment seems to show that feeling lucky is not at all the same as being lucky!

And as for psychic... my experience of precognition is that you can rarely choose to know on demand... and also for something like this which is not a matter or life or death... it would be very unusual to know it as far in advance as his experiment required (several days). Maybe he is being mislead by the media image of super psychics (who are mostly faking it) and not the real experience of everyday psychics (who are mostly hiding it or denying it - see Leah's Dream, Dream, Dream :-).

He is also ignoring another type of potential psychic power - telekinesis - people with this might well be very "lucky" when not in competition with each other but for something like this where they picked their own numbers they are likely to cancel each other out. I used to know someone who was more than usually lucky with dice... even when someone else was throwing...

Wiseman also seems to be assuming something I really wouldn't. He says:
Everyone would have been highly motivated to win.
I don't think so. Again I think this would only apply to the media image of a psychic; the sort that makes their living from persuading other people to think they are psychic, playing to the gallery. Several times whilst getting random quotes I've had this one:
Here's something to think about:

How come you never see a headline like:

Psychic Wins Lottery?

Jay Leno (1950 - )
And each time I've thought only an idiot would want to advertise that they'd won it psychically! But then I'm not interested in fame; especially not the sort of fame that would have all the sceptics onto you straight away trying to prove you weren't psychic...

And if you are wondering why I do consider myself to be somewhat psychic, especially with respect to precognition (but alas not, so far, lottery tickets), here are some examples:

I've known in advance about several people being about to die. For instance, one of our doctors, my mother, an aunt. Also about several accidents and other unpleasant things that unfortunately have also occurred.

On the more positive side I've dreamt I'd be given money and the next day was unexpectely given some by a stranger. And in turn I've happened to impulsively give a present to someone and then discover its their birthday. I've known I'd bump into someone I hadn't seen for ages and done just that. Etc.

I've not always got it right though... For instance, the night that I was sitting up in bed writing away.... I'm going to die... Jim's going to die... Someone is going to die... for hours.

This is not a normal occupation for me; I hadn't done it before and I've not done it since.

It was only much later the next day, the Sunday, that I found out that Princess Diana and Dodi had died and that I had been writing like this at the time of their car crash.

As I'd no special interest in Princess Diana I'm not at all surprised I didn't get this one right.. and in any case I'd kept on writing Die... not death or dying... and all the papers called her Di... hard to tell the difference between those two as sounds isn't it?

Sorry, to have gone all morbid... lets get back to luck.

I've been really interested in how luck works. One experiment I've been running has been with the Premium Bonds. Jim and I started off with the same number of these. He is a fairly steady winner... £50 at a time, sometimes £100, once £150... whilst I am not, however I did once win £600 one month and £350 another... we are the proverbial tortoise and hare... he is the steady one and I have sudden bursts, and like the tortoise he is winning - just!

What sort of luck do you have?


I forgot a relevant synchronicity.... yesterday Jim had said we might as well stop keeping our savings in the premium bonds as they'd be earning a lot more in the high-rate savings accounts now available... when I complained because it would spoil my experiment he said all we need is one.... later on whilst reading the Morse book of the moment Lewis says his wife has just won £50 with the premium bonds which is especially lucky as she just has the one. One Won!


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I've been very lucky...

Wishing you lots of good luck, Caro!

Caroline said...

Tink - thank you VERY MUCH.

Leah said...

i don't know if i've ever considered myself lucky. luck with lottery tickets would be a great trait to have though. :-)

and i don't know anything about this river in egypt you're talking about here. ;-)

Caroline said...

Leah - it certainly would be useful wouldn't it!

You mean you are no longer in de Nile?

Ellen said...

Not that I wouldn't want to win the lottery, but when I heard recently you have just as much chance of being struck by lightning twice than winning the big jackpot, I thought yes, there can be extreme good luck and extreme bad luck. I'm happy to be walking the quiet middle road.

What a strange book to write, I wonder if he would have anything really conclusive to say about luck.

Caroline said...

Ellen - I know someone who has been struck twice by lightning... but I don't yet know anyone who has won more than £10 on the lottery (but then maybe winners are not so keen on publicity whilst people struck by lighting, and surviving it, are quite happy to tell about it....

I've yet to find out if the book is constructive... I'm a bit doubtful as he doesn't seem to be distinguishing between feeling lucky and being lucky.

Anonymous said...

I'm not lucky. However have 'known' a lot of things, and 'know' there isn't anything to worry about. I'll be just fine as an unlucky person, don't even bother to buy tickets :)

Dru Marland said...

In my seafaring days, when we ended up in distant (and not-so-distant) places, there were some of my crewmates who were always getting themselves into Bother. Whereas for me, an encounter in Marseilles was fairly typical; someone pulled a knife on me, but then a police car came around the corner at just the right moment.

That's my life; always some thug with a knife, always a patrol car just in time. So far. I have a guardian angel, but she has a sense of humour.

Shhhh. I won 60 pounds on the lottery, but I haven't let it change my life. Much.

Caroline said...

Anonymous - I've read a bit more of the book now - enough to know I probably won't be reading much more... and he seems to count following one's hunches as one of the strategies for increasing one's luck.... like you I don't consider that lucky but intuitive.... and yes there is not much point in buying tickets if you know you won't win is there?

Dru - how interesting - a sort of good-luck bad-luck mix - just enough to make life exciting perhaps whilst keeping you safe!

One of the book's examples of someone who was lucky was someone who'd got into a really bad situation but survived it... I must admit I thought that someone who was really lucky would never have got there in the first place... unless of course, for some reason they "needed to know" they were lucky....

Did winning £60 make you more inclined, or less inclined, to buy tickets?

And on the National Lottery.... last night I visited their website to see if the Wednesday numbers were up yet (they weren't) but I got asked for the first time in visiting it to take part in one of the website use questionnaires - if synchronicities are going to happen I'd prefer them to involve winning!

And on that sense of humour... hmm.... I had a dream... maybe I'll email you about it....

Krimo said...

I am lucky with parking spaces! Honest!
I get into a car park and never fail to find an empty space.
I remember running out of luck once and ending up in a hotel car park. The porter helped when I slipped him a tenner.
Oh, yes, I once won the Pools. Over 25 years ago.
£1.08! I've still got the cheque.

Caroline said...

Krimo - I know some people do seem to have lots of luck with parking - its a most practical form! Though expensive if it costs you £10 a time!

Gosh do the Pools still exist I wonder... my mother used to do them... your £1.08 cheque sounds like it pleased you enormously! What better payback than a smile.

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

A writer, I think it was Richard North, said that to get published you need luck. I want that kind of luck, though if I won the lotto [which I don't play!], I would use the money to publish and promote my books!

I don't know if I'm reading this thing right...but being psychic means you see what's going to happen...not MAKE things happen.

Caroline said...

GG - it depends on the psychic - some certainly do claim to be able to make things happen...

Hayden said...

I think there is a difference between luck and psychic ability.....

it seems to me that "luck" happens disproportionately to those who look for it. my guess is that those who aren't simply don't notice opportunity. Of course, this doesn't apply if one holds luck to the likelihood of winning/losing lotteries..

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)