On randomness, cognition, the Law of Attraction and Rumsfeld/Cheney{0}

 

This image is in no way related to the post, I just like Shetland ponies, and I think it is cute how they're wearing jumpers (I bet they hate them). I just didn't want the featured image to be one of Cheney or Rumsfeld.

This image is in no way related to the post. I just like Shetland ponies, and I think it is cute how they’re wearing jumpers (I bet they hate them, though in this pic they look quite happy). I just didn’t want the featured image to be one of Cheney or Rumsfeld. (The pic.is from www.telegraph.co.uk).

 

I am no longer miserable. It is Saturday night, and I will spend it on the couch, with the dog and my computer. My day has otherwise been filled with fun and games; I have visited my parents (which was nice); dropped by work to correct a few more tests (DEAR LORD THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM!!1!); walked Nik (a few times) and have pondered sending an email, but decided against it after careful consideration. I then reconsidered and ended up sending a very poorly worded email. I am not entirely sure why). I have also returned a borrowed stereo (farewell stereo, I’ll miss you. We all know I’ll never get around to getting one of my own). And, I am currently listening to a bunch of girls (outside) loudly yelling WOOOOOOO!!!  I am not certain why they yell WOOOOO!!!, but I suspect it might make partying more fun? (Someone should probably conduct an experiment/write an article on it; “A quantitative investigation of perceived fun-ness as measured by the frequency of WOOO’s in a social setting” or somesuch. You could measure decibels, the frequency of WOOO’s and subsequent fun-ratings on likert scales; contact me if you’re interested and I’ll gladly help design the experiment).

Anyway, Sufi suggested I write a post on “the Law of Attraction” so I’ll do exactly that.

Now, keep in mind that I am a skeptic and that I may be completely wrong in my beliefs (as previously mentioned, I am frequently wrong).

The Law of Attraction (simplified and as I understand it) states that what you think (to a certain extent) determines how your life turns out. There’s this cosmic energy thing; good thoughts bring positive things into your life and bad/negative thoughts bring negative things into your life (…”Things”… I am so very eloquent…). You can read more about it here.

I don’t believe in it. I may change my mind, but it is doubtful. First, I believe that there’s a whole lot of randomness going on in the universe, and that we as humans feel a strong urge to impose structure where there’s none. We want things to be orderly, connected and predictable. We also like ranking things. Something has to be best, and something has to be the worst.  We want to know what follows a given event, and we have a hard time dealing with uncertainty and the indeterminable.  We’re ‘meaning-makers’, so randomness and unpredictability makes us uncomfortable. This applies to almost everything and everyone we encounter. Now, for an example, please look at the figures below:

Image taken from film110sp12.pbworks.com

Image taken from film110sp12.pbworks.com

If we see only  the parts/components in isolation, the thing you perceive as a square (or the circle for that matter) are not really a square or a circle. They are composed of a series of irregular lines, but your mind perceives them as recognizable figures, because it fills in the blank areas with perceived (but not present) lines. Your mind imposes structure and orderliness. The term “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” fits perfectly in this context (did you know it was Aristotle who first said that? I didn’t until I googled it. I <3 Google). So, we like to see things and even events as connected somehow. We seek causal explanations for pretty much everything. If we then believe in the Law of Attraction, we may/will interpret these various events as being caused by our thinking. Instead of interpreting an accident as being brought about by random bad luck, we find an instance of prior “bad thoughts” and attribute the accident to those. We create a link between the thought and the event. The same goes for good luck. We may think that good things happen because we have been particularly positive/thought ‘good thoughts’, not because we’ve just been incredibly lucky. Mind you, I am not saying that a positive outlook on life will not alter it dramatically. By being (somewhat) positive, you’re likely to not turn people completely off. When others find you to be happy, maybe even delightful, they are more likely to want to help you, be around you and so forth. But I don’t think it is cosmic energy, I think it is that it is just nicer to be around someone who is happy than someone who is sad (note how most people withdraw, and only the noblest and sweetest of your friends are there for you when you feel horrible? Yeah. Remember to treat those people in the best way possible, they are golden).

Nevertheless, I think I have a couple of (excellent if I may say so myself) cases who illustrate that positive thoughts do not equal positive outcomes/ negative thoughts do not equal negative outcomes: namely Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (or Rush Limbaugh. Or Carl I Hagen. Or Putin. Or any evil warmonger out there. I could bring up countless of other examples, but I have to keep this thing somewhat manageable). Both Cheney and Rumsfeld  are verified pricks. I doubt any of them get up in the morning and think positive happy thoughts, yet they are incredibly successful. They have amassed wealth, power and great success; they’ve lived long lives and they’re seemingly still going to keep going strong for a while.

Really bad guy. (image taken from wikipedia.com).

Really bad guy.
(image taken from wikipedia.com).

REALLY Really bad guy!  (wikipedia again).

Really REALLY bad guy!
(wikipedia again).

Why? Cause life is random and unfair.

So, those are my thoughts on the law of attraction. Please don’t be offended.