Aces Full of It: On the Nature of RandomnessApril 25th, 2016 by Justin Buchanan
As you’ve hopefully noticed by now, this is an opinion blog. What that means is that I, the writer, reserve the right to say basically whatever I darn well feel like in exchange for giving you, the reader, the right to think whatever you darn well feel like about anything I’m saying or even me personally.
Honestly, I’m not even sure who is getting the better deal here. My point is, the situation being as it is, I’m not exactly one for fastidious fact-checking or constructing proper logical arguments about what I’m saying, though I do make at least some effort to not blatantly spread misinformation.
However, my personal Rule #1 in life is that there are exceptions to every rule (yes, including my Rule #1 😉 ) and in this case, I’m going to be making such an exception. My previous entry, in my estimation, went beyond the merely controversial, and journeyed to the territory of the ridiculous, so I feel obligated to make an effort to defend my assertions.
So, today I’ll be expanding on the idea I presented last time, that nothing in the universe is truly random and that people who seem to have “bad luck” may actually be having their outcomes affected by factors too subtle for mere mortals to perceive or consciously affect.
The first thing I should do, that I would have done if I didn’t think I was dragging things out last time as-is, is to establish just what I mean by “random.” It is true that events such as the selecting of lotto balls, rolls of dice, flips of coins, deals of cards, spins of roulette wheels, and slot reels are certainly random in a colloquial sense.
But I never meant the colloquial sense. What I’ve been talking about when I say “random” is an outcome created by a “non-deterministic” system, basically an effect without a cause. In layman’s terms (not that anyone ever uses that phrase anymore) things cause other things to happen, including the aforementioned dice rolls, wheel spins, card deals, et al. At least, in theory, it is possible to obtain a thorough enough comprehension of the causes involved in games of chance to be able to predict their effects with a high degree of accuracy.
If x = y, -x = -y
The reasoning I used to go from the aforementioned thoughts on randomness to the idea of honest to God “bad luck” not being so outlandish after all, is a simple inversion: if it’s possible, with extreme effort, to manipulate subtle physical factors to control the outcome games of chance in your favor, it is just as if not more possible to manipulate those factors, and not even on purpose, against your favor. After all, one of the easiest things to do in the world is mess up.
Am I saying that this whole subtle physical factor thing is some kind of catch-all excuse? Absolutely not. But the next time you’re gambling and on a cold streak, try changing something small up. Change seats at the blackjack table, change what exact slot machine you’re playing. Change how you’re throwing the dice in craps. Who knows, maybe you’ll get more lucky, or at least a bit less unlucky.