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Friday, January 30, 2009

Manipulating Luck

Being superstitious often comes naturally to most of us.
Arbitmind hazards a guess -
most of us have a lucky shirt, a lucky pair of shoes or something to that effect tucked away somewhere.

Back in school Arbitmind had this concept of  a lucky shirt.
Nobody drilled that concept was one of 'those' brainwaves - the kind which
seemed to strike Arbitmind every once in a while .
Every half-a year during the examinations,the first paper would invariably be English. 
It was one of those subjects where Arbitmind would do well.
Now who or what should get the credit for this?
Using his 'profound' logic & insight Arbitmind would conclude that the white shirt which he wore
to the exam hall was behind his success.
Washing the shirt would wash off the good luck charm too. A stern warning to a disgusted mother would  follow..."the shirt was not to be touched"...There was a series of question papers to be negotiated and the shirt was his magic wand.
Things would go up to the extent that by the time the Chemistry exam ended Arbitmind would come back home & hide his shirt because his mother had made up her mind that the goodluck charm needs to be washed off for a greater good of the society in general & the surroundings in particular. 
By the time the Statistics paper ended(which was the last exam), Arbitmind(with the goodluck shirt on) would have had transformed himself into a public health hazard. 
Tathagata(the guy who sat behind Arbitmind during the examinations) had plainly voiced his disapproval once.
The poor guy could not take the olfactory torture anymore.
Even then things did not change. Arbitmind risked the ire of friends, parents & teachers for the sake of the white shirt...the good luck charm.
(Remember : behind every excellent marksheet there is a soiled shirt)

The question is does it really help ? The obvious answer would be a 'NO', the most plausible explanation for Arbitmind's above mentioned folly would be 'teenage naivety'. 

So why are such superstitions such a widespread phenomenon then ? 
What makes even mature, level headed people succumb to such superstitions ?
..& for that matter superstitions are not restricted to teenagers or the proclaimed naive.

Arbitmind believes attributing such behaviour to simple naivety would be an over-simplification.
A stronger reason can be that all of us, in our own little ways try to manipulate our luck.
We tend to explain events as 'cause & effect phenomenon' & believe that outcomes can be manipulated by extrapolation. 

Someone wears a certain tie before every important client meet. Someone uses a certain
bat every time he goes out for an important cricket match. 

Sometimes things go beyond the individual.There are mass superstitions as well. 
Cricket teams believe that if the first wicket to fall is a run out it spells doom for the team.
Ask a BITSian. While going for a test, very few dare to look up
towards the famed clock tower of BITS,Pilani. Legend has it that anyone who does so has a disastrous test.
(It is altogether a different matter that Arbitmind has had numerous disastrous tests even when he did not
look at the clock tower.)Both are examples of collective attempts at manipulating luck.

Luck, though, has its own ways of smiling upon people...thoroughly unconcerned with individual or collective efforts at manipulation. 
That's experience.


Anonymous said...

I once went for my first exams (school) in chappals becoz I had a sprained ankle..the exam went well.. :).. i think i gave my entire set of madhyamik exams in chappals after that!! .Sayantan

arbitmind said...

What was the condition of the chappals after the exams? :-D

Anonymous said...

The chappal had changed but not the idea!. Sayantan