Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Luck And The Gods Of Tarot.

Had an argument recently with a friend about tarot psychics and luck, and it runs a bit like this:

If tarot is all self-projection then I seem to have managed in the past to project reasonable facsimiles of other people's lives, especially several times readings for first-time acquaintances whose details I managed to home in on without the usual "invite-test-switch" kind of ploy that the TV psychics use.

Don't know what is involved, maybe extremely good posture and face reading skills - except that at other times I don't seem to get a hint even if it's painted on a barn door and smashed over my head...

Best case ever - met someone and he had seen me read cards for his sister so he brought in a brand new girlfriend of his. They both sat without saying a word or acknowedging a thing I was reading while I reeled off a divorce, a contest involving a car, and that she had an estranged daughter whom the ex husband was now trying to re-establish contact with and isolate from her.

Later I needed guidance to find that sister's (Ellie) farmlet and drove into a country town and wandered into a local museum and spoke to the woman behind the counter. She had never heard of Ellie, didn't recognise the name of the area that had been subdivided into hobby farmlets, but seized on a name that made sense to her and gave me directions to the area. Got there and turned left instead of right, just as well because Ellie and her partner were coming from that direction in their ute and we would have gone to the farm, not realised it was theirs because the ute wasn't there, and gone home. Later found out that Ellie had named her farmlet by the name this woman pulled out of the hat, but the actual creek which bore that name was miles to the south of where she had directed me. And I knew the name but (it being christmas and I'd been slightly tipsy when Ellie told me) had forgotten it so I couldn't have told the woman at the museum, I only rememembered the full name when she said it.

I can't count the number of times weirdness has crept into my life in this way, but it's been often enough that I accept that it exists. Being a tidy-minded computer geek the thought makes me itch but if it walks like a duck quacks like a duck swims like a duck then it's not likely to be a helicopter or anything other than a duck... %) I accept that there are things I can't directly observe and just remember to duck.

Once I get over the initial hump in a reading I tend to gradually get an overall picture and the details just flow in. I very rarely read individual cards except to get a basic picture, and then what happens is like free association where I take my critical faculty out of the loop.

And I am similarly forced to believe in luck as a force, because of the phenomenon of multiple major lottery winners. I did the stats, for a program I wrote, which basically indicate that the odds of winning one of the major prizes in lotto are about 1 in 60 million. Therefore, the odds of winning two major prizes in lotto are 1 in 360 million million, and the odds of winning three different prizes is 1 in 216000 million million million. The earth's population is only 6,600 million.

So if the Earth ran purely by statistics we should expect a double winner once every half a million years or so, and a treble winner every 300 million million weeks or so, so - say - once every 50 million million years. Yet every year you hear of one or more double winners and there have been several treble winners too. Yes there are probably 10,000 different lotteries in the world but also remember that only a small percentage of the world's population play lotteries, and they don't play every game every week either...

It works both ways of course. If you have been struck by lightning you are more likely than other people to be struck in future. That by the way is proven by observed figures and again statistics can't offer any explanation. Similarly, "bad luck charlies" are an observed phenomenon that doesn't follow the rules of statistics.

So if the world doesn't run by the laws of statistics there has to be a reason involved, and I call that reason, luck. QED. Strange as it seems to end my theory with the acronym for Quantum ElectroDynamics, which is itself based on statistics... hehehehe

Yes I started reading Tarot cards as a general stress relief, because thinking about the meanings ascribed to the cards is calming and leads to meditative thinking which is good from time to time. It was when a friend jokingly asked me if "Swami Theo" would read him his cards one drunken afternoon that I saw some value in them other than meditation. And I found out that my psychology must be good because I got very good at telling what kind of problems were happenng for the subjects, and I still don't know how I do that. (And BTW "Theo" was another of this mate's fabrications, it bears no relationship to my name...)

The statistics I worked out on the back of a napkin (true) at a cafe when a mate and I heard of a triple winner in the States some years back and decided to see if we could guess what were the odds. It was only years later that I went back over the figures with another friend that it suddenly hit me that something was very, very wrong...

If anyone is a statistician or better at it than me perhaps they'd like to work out how close or far off my figures are? And then we can decide if what is being observed is truly random statistics or if we have to concede that there is such a force as luck. I for one would feel much less itchy if someone could explain this one away...

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