Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is luck? Is it a valid concept?

Luck is the relation between random occurrences and one's values.

Random occurrences in favor of one's values are "good luck" and random occurrences against one's values are "bad luck". The less probable the event the higher the "luck" is. When the event is fully predictable in under one's control the term "luck" no longer applies to the situation.

For example: If you walk in the street and an envelope full of money lands on your head - that is good luck. It is a random occurrence that you happened to be at that place at that specific time and the relation to your values is positive since money is a value.

If you win every single game you play in a gambling place that is an extremely good luck - but again, it is all random (putting aside whatever brain was required to win the games). What makes it "extremely good luck" is the relative rarity of the events (the length of the winning streak).

I think that people see "luck" as an actual spiritual entity, as some form of liquid running in one man's body at some time. Evaluations like "This man is lucky" tend to mean that the man himself actually has some quality about him that affects events around him. In fact, no man can be lucky in that sense. Such a concept is mystical.

The reality is that some people have more random occurrences in their favor than their disfavor and this changes nothing of the fact that random occurrences are random occurrences.

Wishing someone "good luck" is no more than letting them know that you wish them success, that you wish the conditions they would encounter outside their control would be in their favor.

So if you are feeling lucky, punk, better check your premises. A feeling of "luck" is not reality based, one cannot "feel" future occurrences outside one's control. :)


  1. Hi Ifat!

    I had very recently been introduced to your blog by Darshan Chande, and I must say I have been very impressed with the rational dissection of complex concepts that goes into your posts. What makes it further admirable is that you do not disregard that small intuitive element called the 'human factor' from your thoughts. Your thoughts are not mere dry philosophy, but something we all can relate to in our lives and apply (once convinced).

    I was wondering that maybe your making a second blog is depriving the readers of your other blog of posts on this one. You could try adding a gadget to your sidebar informing the readers of latest posts.

    But of course, it is entirely your prerogative to keep the two blogs separate or to combine them into one.

    On the current issue I agree with you entirely. Moreover, one of the logical fallacies people make in their acknowledgement of this randomness is their tying it with a human-like entity with intentions and emotions called 'God'. Once people are convinced that randomness is beyond their control, they want an indirect control over it through the agency of God, who they in turn want to control through prayers, rituals, good behavior, etc. This fallacy is further compounded by a wagering tendency - "what is the harm in trying to please God?"

    Of course, the latter part of my comment was just a corollary to your thoughts. And first part was not at all related to your post, but I had to start commenting somewhere. :)


  2. Nice post, Ketan. Thanks for your thoughts.


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