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Don’t confuse me with facts

Overview

Published: 06/25/2012

by Jim Campbell

I had to see the people having fun at the casino, the ones in the commercials, all smiles and laughter. I drove over to

the casino for a look-see. I strolled slowly past people playing the slots, lingered by the poker tables and stared at the gamblers throwing dice. All the while I looked for smiles and laughter, for people dancing around the slots and gaming

tables. All I found were serious and stressed-out people. A college in England is setting up a school to train casino operators. They’ll have courses for croupiers, dealers, slot machine repairing, that sort of thing. I wonder if a Canadian college offers similar

courses. Tim Dowling, an English columnist, wondered if “they [the professors] mention that the casino is actually an

elaborate hoax aimed at persuading people that they are having fun while their money is being pried away from them?”

The odds against winning are astronomical. It is all fixed so the casino – or the government – is sure to win in the end.

Don’t people know that gambling doesn’t produce tons of laughter and that the odds are severely against them winning?

Of course they do! They choose to ignore the facts and hope that, just maybe for once, ‘Lady Luck’ will intervene.

It’s amazing, in this scientific age, how many believe in things that are illogical. For instance, there is no evidence the

movements of the planets affect or determine the course of our lives. And yet, newspapers dare not cease printing

horoscopes and everyone is expected to know their astrological sign. When those who follow the cycles of the planets are

asked why, in the face of the evidence, they look to them for guidance, they often give an answer like, “Well you

never can tell, maybe they do.” Then there are the fortune-tellers and people who claim to have paranormal

powers. James Randi, a magician and author, for years posted a $10,000 prize for anyone who could prove they had supernatural powers or insights. The prize was never won. He said the best tests of the claims people make about their ‘powers’ are made when magicians, who know all the tricks, work with the scientists. Enough of the claims of psychics that

they can bend spoons by mind power, find lost articles and foresee the future have been exposed as fraudulent to

make anyone skeptical about the existence of mysterious powers. However, many are not confused by facts. The real

question is not about what can be proven or disproved but about what people want to believe.

It is convenient to believe there are forces at work in the world that determine our condition and destiny – cosmic

waves, emanations, luck and fate. It is a comforting belief because, if ‘forces’ set the course of life, what happens is never

 easy. If you can’t change the future, what profit is there in fighting the mysterious forces? It is not your fault.

There’s a name for that sort of belief.

It is fatalism, which, in its various forms, is the oldest faith in the world. Even the most convinced fatalists can try to

influence the way things work out. For eons and eons fatalists have sought out ways to influence the forces in control

of their destiny so that good things happen to them. They try to do things on a lucky day, hold a lucky

charm as the dice roll, have a medium say the right words, follow the same routines or wear the clothes you

wore the last time things went well – and maybe – just maybe the balance will tip in their favour. Of course it’s not logical. “But it’s worth a try.” How many people figure mysterious forces determine their lives? It’s hard to say. It seems a lot of people, when things get tough, when they are facing unexpected outcomes and setbacks, when they blunder badly, easily

revert to talking about fate, chance and powers as being responsible. It is not a good place to be. Fatalists seldom learn from

their errors; they are handicapped in coping with unexpected outcomes and in meeting the unknowable future.

Sadly, there are probably times when every one of us doesn’t want to be confused by the facts. When I do that, I

always make dumb choices.

 

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