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The Science Behind: Luck

Luck is something that has always puzzled me ever since I was a little child.

Growing up, I was never a lucky person. Whenever the teacher pulled sticks to decide who was going to deliver attendance, my stick never got picked. I never got my favorite chocolate ice-cream bar on the school’s annual ice-cream social, because it always ran out before I came! My best friend though was the complete opposite. She delivered the attendance at least 2 out of the 5 days of the week and got to skip the first full 10 minutes of class. She got her favorite orange popsicle at every social and licked it till her tongue was bright orange.

It was then I started to wonder, what makes her so lucky? And what is luck anyway? Why do some people have it - and some people don’t? And so today, I am here to answer my question, the long-overdue, 8-year-old question, the science behind luck.

According to google, luck is “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions.”

So what google is claiming here is that luck is simply a “chance” and is not affected by one’s actions or attitude. But after some research, I found that this in fact, is not true.

Luck, according to popular science, is based more on “psychology rather than probability.” You, your brain, your thoughts, and your actions determine how lucky you are, not some invisible force like we might be anticipating.

Luck is determined by one main fallacy, the Gambler’s Fallacy. Wait, but isn’t luck based on what you think…that’s what I said, right? Yes, it is. This fallacy is just a rule or rather, a prediction of a human’s thoughts and actions when a certain thing ( good or bad) occurs.

First, the Gambler’s Fallacy. The Gambler Fallacy, according to Investing Answers, is “a situation in which a gambler believes that a string of past events will change the probability of future events occurring.” In simpler words, it’s the belief of gamblers, or humans in general, that the past events will change or affect the future events.

A popular belief of the Gambler’s Fallacy says that “If you have been losing, you are more likely to win in future.” Following an example given by Popular Science, imagine two people gambling. One of them is winning, and the other person losing. The loser is about to make his next bet. He’s very worried and scared too. He’s been losing so far, so he doesn’t want to take any risks and makes a safe bet. The person winning on the other hand, has gotten over-confident, thinking luck is on his side, and he chooses something risky. In the end, the person once losing is going to win the bet, because of his safe decisions. And that is the belief of Gambler’s Fallacy.

This statement might be true in some cases, but overall this could go a different direction too. The losing participant might be desperate, and decide to make riskier bets. And the winning participant might choose to make safer bets to stay ahead.

“Chances” of winning all depend on the person playing, what they are thinking, what situation they are in, etc. Because based on what they are thinking, they play, and that’s what determines their success or failure.

So, how do you get luckier?

Your perception of yourself and how you see yourself as a person plays a big part in how lucky you are. Popular Science describes a study done by Richard Wiseman which supports this idea. The article reads, “In one study, he asked people who identified as luck and as unlucky to read a newspaper. On one-half page of a newspaper, he wrote in large letters: "Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250." The people who said they were lucky were more likely to see the ad, Wiseman wrote, and the "unlucky" people seemed to demonstrate more anxiety, which detracted from their powers of observation.” What we extract from this, is that people who see themselves as unlucky, aren’t actually unlucky at all, they just start to believe this and their actions follow this belief of theirs. Ultimately it results in a lack of observation which then results into less opportunities for them.

So I guess the secret to luck is to always have trust and confidence in yourself. Be positive and luck will be on your side!

I don’t really get how being confident would get me my precious chocolate ice-cream bar, but I guess you guys could try to answer that for me! I have been answering all your questions, maybe you could solve mine? Just kidding, you guys already make me so lucky by allowing me to answer your questions! Anyways, I hope all of you had fun reading this article and learned something interesting. Try out my secret to luck and let me know in the comments if it works!

Happy Learning, Ishita


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