Thursday, December 23, 2010

Luck defined

LUCK: or fortuity is good or bad fortune in life caused by accident or chance, and attributed by some to reasons of faith or superstition, which happens beyond a person's control.

The term "luck" is pervasive in common speech. There are at least two senses people usually mean when they use the term, the proscriptive sense and the descriptive sense. In the proscriptive sense, luck is the supernatural and deterministic concept that there is a force which proscribes that certain events occur very much the way the laws of physics will proscribe that certain events occur. It is the proscriptive sense that people mean when they state that they "do not believe in luck." In the descriptive sense, luck is merely a descriptive name we give to events after they occur which we find to be fortuitous.

Cultural views of luck vary from perceiving luck as a matter of random chance to attributing to luck explanations of faith or superstition. For example, the Romans believed in the embodiment of luck as the goddess Fortuna, while the atheist and philosopher Daniel Dennett believes that "luck is mere luck" rather than a property of a person or thing.

Luck is interpreted and understood in many different ways.

Luck as lack of control

Luck refers to that which happens to a person beyond that person's control. This view incorporates phenomena that are chance happenings, a person's place of birth for example, but where there is no uncertainty involved, or where the uncertainty is irrelevant. Within this framework one can differentiate between three different types of luck:

Constitutional luck, that is, luck with factors that cannot be changed. Place of birth and genetic constitution are typical examples.

Circumstantial luck—with factors that are haphazardly brought on. Accidents and epidemics are typical examples.

Ignorance luck, that is, luck with factors one does not know about. Examples can be identified
only in hindsight.

Luck as a fallacy

Another view holds that "luck is probability taken personally." A rationalist approach to luck includes the application of the rules of probability, and an avoidance of unscientific beliefs.

The rationalist feels the belief in luck is a result of poor reasoning or wishful thinking. To a rationalist, a believer in luck who asserts that something has influenced his or her luck commits the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy: that because two events are connected sequentially, they are connected causally as well. In general:

A happens (luck-attracting event or action) and then B happens; Therefore, A influenced B.

More contemporary authors writing on the subject believe that definition of good destiny is: one who enjoys good health, has the physical and mental capabilities of achieving his goals in life, has good appearance, has happiness in mind and is not prone to accidents.

In the rationalist perspective, probability is only affected by confirmed causal connections. The gambler's fallacy and inverse gambler's fallacy both explain some reasoning problems in common beliefs in luck. They involve denying the unpredictability of random events: "I haven't rolled a seven all week, so I'll definitely roll one tonight".

Luck is merely an expression noting an extended period of noted outcomes, completely consistent with random walk probability theory. Wishing one "good luck" will not cause such an extended period, but it expresses positive feelings toward the one—not necessarily wholly undesirable.

It cannot be shown that luck actually exists, hence luck is nothing more than a word used by one in a self delusional assumption of understanding events of which one is informed or which one witnesses. As such, it is a word which superstitious people use to simultaneously presume to have insight into events and, paradoxically, to cease efforts to understand the causes and effects of those same events.

Luck as an essence

There is also a series of spiritual, or supernatural beliefs regarding fortune. These beliefs vary widely from one to another, but most agree that luck can be influenced through spiritual means by performing certain rituals or by avoiding certain circumstances.

Luck can also be a belief in an organization of fortunate and unfortunate events. Luck is a form of superstition which is interpreted differently by different individuals. Famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, who founded analytical psychology, coined the term "synchronicity", which he described as "a meaningful coincidence".

Christianity and Islam believe in the will of a supreme being rather than luck as the primary influence in future events. The degrees of this Divine Providence vary greatly from one person to another; however, most acknowledge providence as at least a partial, if not complete influence on luck. Christianity, in its early development, accommodated many traditional practices which at different times, accepted omens and practiced forms of ritual sacrifice in order to divine the will of their supreme being or to influence divine favoritism. The concept of "Divine Grace" as it is described by believers closely resembles what is referred to as "luck" by others.

Mesoamerican religions, such as the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, had particularly strong beliefs regarding the relationship between rituals and luck. In these cultures, human sacrifice (both of willing volunteers and captured enemies) was seen as a way to please the gods and earn favor for the city offering the sacrifice. The Mayans also believed in blood offerings, where men or women wanting to earn favor with the gods, to bring about good luck, would cut themselves and bleed on the gods' altar.

Many traditional African practices, such as voodoo and hoodoo, have a strong belief in superstition. Some of these religions include a belief that third parties can influence an individual's luck. Shamans and witches are both respected and feared, based on their ability to cause good or bad fortune for those in villages near them.

Luck as a self-fulfilling prophecy

Some encourage the belief in luck as a false idea, but which may produce positive thinking, and alter one's responses for the better. Others, like Jean-Paul Sartre and Sigmund Freud, feel a belief in luck has more to do with a locus of control for events in one's life, and the subsequent escape from personal responsibility. According to this theory, one who ascribes their travails to "bad luck" will be found upon close examination to be living risky lifestyles.

In personality psychology, people reliably differ from each other depending on four key aspects: beliefs in luck, rejection of luck, being lucky, and being unlucky.[12] People who believe in good luck are more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, and have better moods.[12] If "good" and "bad" events occur at random to everyone, believers in good luck will experience a net gain in their fortunes, and vice versa for believers in bad luck. This is clearly likely to be self-reinforcing. Thus, a belief in good luck may actually be an adaptive meme.