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I don't believe in luck

  1. Apr 18, 2012 #1
    "I don't believe in luck"

    Lots of people will say they don't believe in luck, which I guess is a way of saying they believe in some kind of determinism to some extent. I also hear people say that luck is an excuse or that you make your own luck. I understand this could be taken in the philosophical direction of quantum mechanics interpretations and the whole determinism/freewill argument, but that's not where I want to go with this.

    I start to think that luck is a real phenomenon. I think of it just as a qualitative way of describing an outcome of a probabilistic event that is perceived as a positive effect to an observer. The amount of uncertainty or low probability of that event having a positive effect determines how lucky that event was. Luck should be able to be defined mathematically with a quantitative measurement in terms of some kind of probability calculation. In this sense, making your own luck can just be interpreted as actively increasing the probability of a certain event turning out with a positive effect for yourself. I think it should be accepted as how we use the word luck as a real phenomena rather than just a feeling of amazement, relief, envy, etc. It is easy to take credit away from or increase credit to someone or something that is trying to acheive a specific outcome by inducing or eliminating luck as a factor.

    Has anyone else thought of this or is anyone familiar with references that have looked at probability with reference to the perceived positive effect from an observer? Feel free to tear apart what I've written; I'm just curious how real the concept of luck is.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
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  3. Apr 18, 2012 #2
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    Hi I'm pretty sure that's basically what most people view luck as they probably just don't word it that way. The compulsive gamble probably knows from experience that their chance of walking out of a casino "ahead" is small so that is possibly why they think if they do it'll feel good.
     
  4. Apr 18, 2012 #3

    Evo

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    This doesn't belong in Philosophy, moved.
     
  5. Apr 18, 2012 #4
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    Not sure why this doesn't belong in philosophy as its a philosophical question on the concept of luck, and I went ahead and have just found citations with regards to philosophical concepts of luck to back this up:

    http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/people/documents/EpistemicLuckJPRFinal.pdf
    http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu/faculty/rarneson/luckegalitarianism2.pdf
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-bad-luck/
    http://www.monkeyrivertown.com/brains.php?ART=393 [Broken]

    I was hoping some people in the philosophy forum would be able to give some more insight than google, but I guess I don't know enough about philosophy to pose a valid question/discussion. Oh well, I will not argue, and I only hope someone is interested in general discussion to give their idea on this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Apr 18, 2012 #5

    Evo

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    You didn't read the rules on how/what to post in Philosophy, did you?
     
  7. Apr 18, 2012 #6

    Pengwuino

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    You are saying that luck is the probability that something will happen. That's saying if I have a 1 in 10,000,000 chance of winning the lottery, then by buying 2 tickets, I shall have more "luck". That's not luck, that's simply having a higher probability to win.

    I'm trying to think of a way to quantify "luck" but everything ends up coming right back down to probability. I mean, even if you have a lottery where your chances of winning are 1 in 1,000,000, statistically someone can win 10 times in a row and if you say "wow that guy is lucky", it's not really meaningful to me because there's nothing wrong with someone winning 10 times in a row and there was a finite probability of that happening. Statistics aren't fun that way.
     
  8. Apr 18, 2012 #7

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    Whaaat????

    No, that doesn't equate at all.

    I don't believe there is a phenomenon called luck, but that certainly doesn't mean I believe there's any kind of determinism!

    Quite the opposite; I believe we are all able to chart our own course. Luck does not interfere for good or bad. That is not to say there aren't exterior factors beyond our control and beyond our perception - but that's not luck.
     
  9. Apr 18, 2012 #8

    fluidistic

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    Are you sure you meant "finite"? Any probability I know is finite, I think you meant "non-zero".
    What is funny is that an event with exactly 0 probability can happen (like what is the probability to pick a particular radius in a circle? 0. However you can pick one and it had 0 probability to be picked up) and an event with probability 1 can not happen necessarily.
    On a more serious tone I do not believe in luck. Let me explain what I've suffered. I've seen the about 10^22 molecules of gas inside my water bottle hitting the top of it at a same time, expulsing the top with about 620 J. They were finally free, setting up their luck number to 1, but I received the top over the nose, cancelling the luck of the molecules and setting the luck number of the whole system to 0.
     
  10. Apr 19, 2012 #9
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    I think in your example of buying an extra ticket, I would say it isn't increasing your luck by buying 2 tickets. I would say that if you won after buying 2 tickets, it was less of a lucky outcome than if you had only bought 1 and won.

    I am glad you said this though, it makes it easier to doubt what I thought about luck being able to be quantified.
     
  11. Apr 19, 2012 #10
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    We chart our own course, but not everything that we do or that happens to us is in our control. Sometimes those things that are out of our control happen to be good or bad, and the degree to which they are out of our control would determine how lucky or unlucky the outcome could be considered.
     
  12. Apr 19, 2012 #11

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    It seems to me that "luck" as it is commonly used is either: a quality of having events fall in your favour or a supernatural probability that can affect natural probability.

    To expand on what I mean on the first point let's propose a gambling game where the player rolls a dice, if they roll a 6 they win. The chances of them rolling a 6 is obviously 1/6. Now let's propose we have ~200 players who roll the dice 3 times, of them it is likely that one of them will roll a 6 three times in a row*. That person can be said to be lucky because the improbable event fell in their favour.

    The second point is slightly different but concerns the more superstitious use of the term. Whilst the chances of rolling a 6 may be 1/6 there are people who believe that blowing on their hand, wearing certain clothes, walking under a ladder etc will somehow shift this probability either more or less in their favour. This is obviously rubbish but it's a way that people use the term.

    * Chance of one six = 1/6
    Chance of two sixes = 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/36
    Chance of three sixes = 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/216
     
  13. Apr 19, 2012 #12

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    This is where the flaw is. It implies there is some phenomenon of luck.

    A thousand to one chance means, on average, something will happen 1 in 1000 times. If it happens on the first try (or not at all), that's not luck, that's just probability.
     
  14. Apr 19, 2012 #13
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    Isn't that just a shorthand? In other words, when I say I believe in 'luck', what I'm actually saying is that there are often factors I cannot control that can affect me, and because that's such a mouthful I call that 'luck'.

    Of course, there are probably plenty of people who think as luck as some sort of... thing, but I never thought that'd be the general meaning.
     
  15. Apr 19, 2012 #14
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    I think of it from our perspective, that it is considered luck because it is a positive outcome. Just for something to happen is probability, but for it to happen in our favor with a low probability is where I think you can call it what we consider luck. I'm not trying to come up with any new concepts or definitions. I'm just trying to express luck as a real thing rather than something we use as an excuse or invalid explanation for why something happened.

    I just think that luck is a real thing in the sense that someone who has a 1 in 100000 chance of being able to accomplish a task will accomplish it only by luck rather than on his own capabilities.

    Consider someone at a shooting range who has never shot a gun in their life, and happens to hit it on the bullseye their first try. Assuming they don't have a natural gift for shooting and they keep missing from then on, I would consider that bullseye luck since it was a low probability event that had a positive outcome.

    Likewise if a rare event were a negative outcome, it could be considered bad luck. If it had a neutral outcome, it would almost always go over our heads that it was actually a rare occurance because we don't bother to analyze every event in our lives, or perhaps it might be considered a coincidence if we were able to acknolwedge that it was rare but with no good/bad effect. Even further, a good event with a high probability of it occuring isn't really luck because we had taken action or expected that result regardless of our own control of the event.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  16. Apr 19, 2012 #15
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    I say "good luck" to say "I hope good things happen to you, and not bad things", but not to summon the effects of some supernatural phenomenon. Things don't happen for a reason if they were not premeditated.
     
  17. Apr 19, 2012 #16
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    I think some people think of luck in a superstitious or miraculous sort of way, and like my first post referred to, some people don't belive there is such a thing as luck, as in they have complete control over all the good things that have happened in their lives, and that they made those things happen.
     
  18. Apr 19, 2012 #17
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    Ya perhaps phenomenon was a bad word to call it, as if it were unexplained. I just mean that it is something that we experience that we don't really think about other than calling it luck.
     
  19. Apr 19, 2012 #18

    DaveC426913

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    The trouble with 'luck' is when one starts talking about 'lucky', as if tossing three heads in a row on a fair coin means one is more likely to toss a head on the fourth throw.

    People really do think that it is a property of people.
     
  20. Apr 21, 2012 #19

    Danger

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    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    I am always loathe to agree with the penguin, but have no option here. He and Dave pretty much covered my view, and I am too tired to read the rest right now.
    To clarify my stance: I think that it's a matter of linguistics. Luck, to me, implies something that can be influenced by a "good luck charm" or saying "break a leg" to an actor about to go on stage.
    I believe in probabilities, and in the fact that anyone "out of the loop" has minimal control over them. For instance, casino owners can set the payback odds of a slot machine. Regardless of what those odds are, the win/loss of a pull is determined by the states of two pseudorandom number generators working together at the exact microsecond that the switch is tripped. Anyone who plugs a couple of thousand bucks into a machine over a few hours and walks away, only to have someone sit down and immediately hit the jackpot, has no right to claim that he would have won if he'd hung in for one more pull. That pull wouldn't have been at the same time, so it wouldn't have won.
    In my league darts (a thing of the past) and pool (still kicking), shaking hands before and after a game is mandatory. Even if it weren't, we'd do it just to be social. Quite often, an opponent will say "good luck". "Luck" has nothing to do with it. Weird stuff occasionally happens, such as a cue ball skipping off of a dead bug, but there's no supernatural influence involved. The rest is skill and knowing the characteristics of the table. To me (although my opponents don't mean it thusly) I think of "good luck" as a bit of an insult, implying that I would need some sort of intervention in order to succeed. I always just say "have a good game" or "happy hunting".
     
  21. Apr 22, 2012 #20
    Re: "I don't believe in luck"

    I don't believe in luck, but I believe in randomness.
     
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