Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The LUCK FACTOR or Giving Birth to a Baby !

The following is the unedited version of an abstraction currently featured in the 20th revised edition of Malleus Maleficus, The Moonshine Memorandum

            “I tested fortune, and it revolted,” I said, coining a phrase.
            Bodo smiled  with as much patronage as he could muster. “So you’re involved in a battle of wits with a self-defeating ego and want to avoid being outsmarted. Fine. Doing nothing is not a viable alternative. Clearly, you have to take responsibility for your own life. Seasoned psychologists will  of
course point out that strategy, tactic and hasty choice in the heat of the moment are always likely to have as much impact on the course of events as initial decisions. But what I am suggesting is that, rather than being academic in your approach to bad luck, you can use chance to create a disabling strategy in which your opponent, i.e., your alter ego,  can do no better than guess.”
            I sat up. How are you going to do that?
            “It’s quite simple. You can flip a coin.”
            “Professor,” I said, as an alternative to laughing in his face, “That’s  ridiculous!” 
          “Not at all. Heads you win, tails you lose is a fabulous way of avoiding difficult decisions. Trust me, you will not find a method that is more pivotal and conclusive. Untouched by human decision or thought, there are no probabilities here, my friend. That moment is completely indeterminate. It is, in terms of the many-words, or parallel-universe, interpretation of quantum mechanics,  the collapse of the wavefunction. And you have probably no idea what I am talking about. But if macroscopic objects do have associated waves, then, one radical prediction of quantum probability is, that at every potential decision point the universe splits into parallel branches. At the moment you flip the coin, there is a crack in the universe. What’s more,  the coin has removed from the picture any vestige of  personal input or ‘power.’ Admittedly, given the choice of putting on a pair of joggers, or going on a diet, you’d scarcely decide via heads or tails. But when it comes to deciding between the respective merits of going on a holiday to either Damascus or Kandahar, fate could get much more deftly involved. You get the drift? As  the links with the self are weakened, the future  holds out new perspectives.” Donnersborn leaned forward, smiling beatifically: “Every time you flip a coin, you’re giving birth to a baby.”
            And with that,  the will to remonstrate abandoned me. “Go on,” I said, feeling weak. Here was a frontier to be won from oblivion.
            Donnersborn was by no means daunted. "Admittedly, avoidance of decision-making may seem to be the immediate priority, but much more is at stake than the fate of one individual. Trust me on this, an entire syndrome is involved here. Dependency! The more absolute the need, the more unlikely its fulfilment, until it is statistically relevant. Although I am certain this is not something that can ever be subjected to experimental trials, it is the fundamental postulate of the theory. A syndrome, in fact, which those who have not experienced it would be unlikely to comprehend. It's the conflict between your ardent desires and your emotional dependence on their possible fulfilment, which follows an easily recognizable pattern." 
      "Yes, yes!" I said. I knew the pattern.
      Donnersborn smiled - though it was less a smile than a poignant expression. “That’s what  makes this syndrome so dependable and debilitating. Losers are not always mistaken...no… they just can’t be contained!  In fact, there’s always room - plenty of room - for further disasters. It’s an addiction. And you might well argue, it works. Just think of Theresea May. No matter what she attempts to do, she has an unshakeable problem with ill fortune. Indeed, her luck is so bad, you might think that only a ‘supernatural explanation’ appears to make sense. Not so, I’m afraid. It is sometimes suggested that random events  occur in bunches, but it is the prime minister’s own insecurities that largely determine her public failures.  As in all tragedies, nemesis is really just the counterpart of your own input or 
contribution.  To put it at its crudest, such are the consequences of severe trauma. Its terms and conditions are determined less by chance than by stance. Unlike the agoraphobic who went out of the house for only the third time in ten years – and promptly plunged down a manhole.[1] For if I were to suggest how this determinism might be explained, I would indeed suggest a law due to 'the mind', and not a series of mechanical events that act together in a deterministic fashion. Nope, I would suggest, that by contrast, deviations from determinism appear to introduce anthropomorphous concepts such as chance and coincidence.”
            I digested this. Not for me, the dry, impenetrable gobbledygook.
            “All is not lost, however. Take heart: Man is the measure of all meaning.” He smiled expansively. “On the face of it, there seems no ground for believing that luck is a law due to the mind, but we are apt to deceive ourselves badly as to the degree of effective determinism even in the strictest context of causality, since among its less visible effects fortuity emerges as the projection of a synchronized intention. As the manifestation of an anthropic concept, rather than material consistency: You know you're getting screwed, you just can't figure out who is screwing you! Which is not a causal a priori law, but an a posteriorily defined Selection Bias. And not merely because it is the vehicle of recognized ideas, but precisely because it provides exactly the properties necessary to constitute the great determining principle of empirical reality, if not by virtue of causality, at least as the result of what might be described as conceptual necessity. And not least because circumstances make of logical necessity a conceptual law of creation.
            Some people believe that the fortunes of men depend on whether they were born under a good or bad star,” I muttered sulkily. Luck was not something I had much experience of. 
            “My apologies to them all.” Donnersborn said rolling his eyes and looking like a ham actor impersonating a saint. “Where they are missing the point is, that luck  contains a fundamental conceptual element. One whose byways of chance and irrationality are statistically unknown to science. Nor is that element a property of reality itself - it only insinuates itself with the selective examination of reality. “A peculiar interdependence of objective events,” as Jung succinctly put it,“with the subjective states of the observer. Hence serial coincidences. They are a way of expressing global a-symmetries in perfectly rational situations. A-symmetries so enticing that any improbability connected with them appears perfectly reasonable. In fact, the whole point is, that they seem so oddly plausible. And I don’t believe in horoscopes, stars, good or bad karma; above all I don’t believe in happiness, redemption or the promised land. All these are incidental blessings. In fact, I shouldn’t  say this lightheartedly, but there are things in this context that need to be set straight.”
            “That moment,” I said, “appears to have arrived.”
            “Take the case of Evelyn Marie Adams, who won $ 4 million on the New Jersey Lottery. That was in 1985. Less than six month later she entered again, and won another $ 1.5 million. Or take the British couple who beat odds of 283 billion to one to win £1m on the Euromillions for a second time.[2] Makes you sick, doesn’t it? To say nothing of the California teen who wins the lottery twice in one week, or a man named Larry Gambles who wins it twice with the same numbers. But that’s the lunacy of it, my dear boy. All this is concentrated in the simple word
“luck”. For here lies the ultimate, for us unapproachable, secret – not identifiable in terms the human mind could possibly acknowledge. That’s no coincidence, my friend; and yet chance is held to be an infallible doctrine. Nonsense, I say! Total fiction. There is no explanation for this type of fortuity, other than that there are areas of human knowledge which rely on unconscious, or collective, information - or its sum-over-histories, if you prefer - and as such  belong to absolute Space rather than linear Time. Believe you me, luck is a buffoon that seeks its own! Your biggest competitive advantage is not to depend on it. I’m with Evelyn Marie on this one - luck, like love, invariably favours the one who's otherwise engaged. That woman wasn’t desperate to win, that woman couldn’t care less…”
            “Only way to go,” I said.  Frankly I, too,  was past caring.
"You think too much!"
          “But you are not a gambler, Malleus, you’re a scrambler - unlucky in your timing, I can tell. You think too much!
And your instinctive understanding becomes subject to functional empirical limitations. Frankly, it makes all the difference.  In this dispensation, old buddy, you transfer something that exists in virtual space into the conceptual domain – a kind of medium for the relationship between states of mind that are measured intuitively. At one level this medium is simply mindless. At another it  is a real problem because the empiricist’s world view is based on the historical evidence of the statistical balance of rationality. Notwithstanding the absurdity of this idea, science discounts all evidence of anomalous patterns in the belief that these deviations in human fortune  –  call them chance – will always be smoothed out statistically. What’s more, we make these assumptions so consistently one could almost say that our very rationality prohibits fortuity. Trust me, Malleus, you don’t want the details but, let’s face it, concepts of reality only exists in our understanding of how the world works, not independent of it.” 
            I said nothing to that.

[1] METRO April 21st., 2015
[2]  "All you’ve got to do is believe you're going to do it!" -  David and Kathleen Long, a couple from Scunthorpe who added to the £1m they picked up in 2013.


Time to phone a friend...

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