Should I salute magpies?

One of the key advantages of practicing CHE is the ability to quickly sift through life’s mundane choices, enjoying them and knowing that, by and large, you have made what for you were the right choices when it comes to Home Economical issues. How should one clean their clothes, house, self and mind. Is Amazon Prime is justified? Which vitamins should I supplement? How much is optimum salt?

Consider the CHE equation: Should I wear my seatbelt?

It is simple to see on a three-space Risk/Cost/Benefit vector graph that, yes, of course you should wear your seatbelt. It is irrational not to, if you value self preservation. What is interesting is that such indubitable Cartesian conclusions map into the same kind of epistemic grid as things that on the whole seem woo, irrational or nonsensical.

Consider the CHE equation:  Should I salute magpies?

This one, when you flesh it out, has a few more nexi than the seatbelt one, but the structure is almost the same; where the two equations differ is in the two driving assumptions.

  1. Wearing Seatbelts: It is possible that wearing a seatbelt could save the wearer’s life.
  2. Saluting Magpies: It possible that saluting a magpie could increase the saluter’s  Luck.

In the case of 2, once we accept the possibility of Luck then it is no difference of kind to move on and reason something like:

  1. There is something special called Luck.
  2. It is possible this Luck can be increased by agency.
    1. I’m assuming that if there is a supernatural (“nonprobabalistic”?) reality to luck then it can be something that can be in some sense accumulated or bestowed on.
      1. If this assumption is not accepted then you seem forced to accept that there is Luck but it is distributed stochastically/probabilistically.
        1. Luck would be real but its distribution chanced, which seems absurd.
  3. It is possible saluting magpies could entail 2 (Luck increase).
  4. Saluting magpies is an extremely low risk activity.
  5. Saluting magpies is an extremely low cost activity.
  6. It is rational to solute magpies.

But if we don’t accept the reality of Luck, we cannot go with Assumption 1 in the CHE reasoning above. It all boils down to the reality of Luck.

With anything abstract and potentially magical in a CHE equation, it needs to be weighted. Is there evidence? Is there mechanism? Is there equivalence? Even then, unless there is a refutation, all we can ultimately say is IDK.

  1. I cannot be certain that there is Luck.
  2. I cannot be certain that there is no Luck.

The Reality of Luck

I haven’t researched what others have said on Luck, I assume it has been spoken about lots. One thing that seems clear is that people who believe in Luck are believing in something that’s up there with ghosts and deities. For example, for there to be a reality to  Luck there needs to be some kind of external agent, some Intelligence, that says “Bob is going to be more likely to win this coin toss.”

That’s a huge new guest to one’s ontological buffet, and I think you cannot have Luck without that. So, if you think your rabbit foot brings you luck, you are tacitly assuming, and please CMV, that there is/might be a deciding and intelligent agent affecting your life.

Luck also has implications to do with temporal logic. The kind of arguments against the logical possibility of changing the past might apply in the case of Luck.

  1. At t1 x was not going to happen to P at t3.
  2. At t2 P has luck bestowed on them.
  3. At t1 x was going to happen to P at t3.

Is that right? I don’t know, it seems so to me.

The point is that accepting Luck is not a small thing, it is a huge thing that brings with it the world being profoundly different to the world without it. But as skeptics, that is no reason to deny the possibility of it.

What about evidence and mechanism? Is there any?

The Physical Argument For Real Luck

We cannot get evidence for Luck. Even if 1000 times out of 1000 I do better with my lucky charm than without it, that could always just be a coincidence.

What about a mechanism for how luck could work? Suppose you were a creator being and you made a universe with individuals in and you wanted to be able to bestow Luck upon them.

How would you do that? What mechanism, in this world, could you use. You would need to use a mechanism that was compatible with this world, or else there would be risk of contradiction. You would need a way to change the outcome of events while the changes being nomologically compatible with reality.

In fact, it seems our universe does have such a mechanism, built in at the bolts,  which would allow consistent changes to be made to outcomes – this is quantum indeterminateness. True randomness exists and it could be used to facilitate the bestowing of luck.  It is not against the laws of the universe that a bullet could suddenly veer off course. It could happen. If you wanted to bestow Luck upon your creations, you could use the indeterminateness built into your creation.

The reality of Luck has no possible evidence, has a huge ontological payload and has a plausible mechanism in this universe. If I had to choose I would say I do not not belive in the reality of Luck – but I do not have to choose; uncertainty is certain in my world view.

Conclusion: Should I salute magpies?

Real Luck could be real or not. It is fundamentally unknowable which is the case. Luck, if it was real would be something worth having – it would be irrational to think otherwise. Given this, and the minuscule cost and risk of saluting the magpies, in my opinion, the CHE solution to the equation is that yes, I should salute magpies. Why would I not?

Spread the love