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If something bad has happened something good must soon happen


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#1 1veedo

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 02:26 AM

I was just thinking about this the other day. I dont know how much sense this makes. I call it the If something bad has happened something good must soon happen theory.

Lets say that we can quantify "goods" and "bads." Anything that will make somebody happy is "good" and anything that will piss somebody off and otherwise put them in a bad mood is "bad". Tripping over a chair is "bad" while finding a new quarter is "good."

So I'm going to call the average of these positives and negatives in a person's life as their "luck." Although most things that happen in one's life can be largely controlled or altered (paying attention, making good of the bad, etc) I think luck will still do. I dont have a better name.

Now if we were to graph everything that happened in somebody's life, they would logically straddle this line. Therefore, if you're having a "bad" day, the next must logically have a higher probability to be a "good" one. If the next day is another bad one, then the day after must logically have an even greater chance of being a good day, and in fact an excellent day.

Of course, "luck" can always change but it would seem that the average of goods and bads must stay about the same from day to day. Except maybe like, big changes in a life such as moving or a new car, getting married, whatever.

But in general, when nothing special is happening, it is easy to be positive...
Remember, if things just haven't been going to well for you recently, look on the bright side: just around the corner you are going to be very "lucky."

Not only is this a good way to live your life (always being positive), it is logical that bad always leads to good. A possible implication to ones life is to try to push the "luck" line, or average higher and thus your life would be better as a whole.
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#2 Ophiolite

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 02:55 AM

I understand your argument, but I think you can take it further.

When something 'bad' happens, re-examine it to find out if it is truly bad. I consistently see people reacting to events that are at worst neutral as if they were a natural disaster in the making. I should probably give some examples. these may not be very good ones, but its 2:45 in the morning and my brain is slowing down.

You and a colleague call on a client and although you have an appointment he keeps you waiting for half an hour. Two ways of treating this:
a) This is a bad thing. The client is showing disrespect. I was mentally prepared to negotiate/sell to him, but this has thrown me off. What am I going to do now. I'll have a wasted half hour or more.
b) This is a good thing. I have some extra time to review again all the facts and figures I need for my presentation to the client. If I feel I am already well prepared I can use the time to read some of that material from my in tray that I carry for just such an occasion, or I can ferret through the client's InHouse magazines here in reception and glean some currently unknown facts about him. Finally, the fact that keeping us waiting hasn't bothered us at all will be appreciated by the client.

It's Valentine's day and your partner's favourite restaurant is fully booked.
a) This is a bad thing. you always go there for Valentine's Day dinner. He/she will be pissed off.
b) This is a good thing. Find a different restaurant. Arrange for flowers to be delivered to your table (I'm assuming now the partner is female.) Make the whole expereience new and different and romantic.

I could go on, but I think you see the idea.
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#3 mossoi

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 03:12 AM

Interesting idea but once the 'luck' line has deviated from the centre there is no reason for it to return, the next event(s) just take the new line as the centre.

An example (anybody more mathematical that me should feel free to back this up with a proper description):

Flipping a coin 100 times one can expect at the end for the total number of heads and tails to be split 50/50.

What happens if the first 10 flips are all heads? This is unlikely to happen but let's assume it to be the case.

The eleventh flip has no knowledge of the first 10, so the probability of a tails remains 0.5, exactly the same as it is for all flips. Once the first 10 flips are counted as heads the best we can assume is that after 20 flips the total number of heads will be 15 (half of flips 10 to 20). We cannot assume that we'll get 10 tails in a row to compensate for the 10 heads we had before.

Essentially, once an event has happened we cannot take it into account to calculate the probability of subsequent events. Once you realise you've had 3 'bad luck' incidents it's too late and the probability of the next event being good as a result has nothing to do with the 3 bads. You could say that during the course of the day you could expect to have 3 good and 3 bad things happen but you can't wait for 3 bad to happen and then expect only good.

On the psychological side of this theory:

Not only is this a good way to live your life (always being positive)

Surely when one is on a good luck streak the assumption is going to be that something bad is imminent. For every positively viewed bad day there will be a negatively viewed good day. This will surely lead to apathy - "Meh, what's the point in trying, if I make some things go well other things will go bad to compensate. I'll just sit here and watch TV".
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#4 Ophiolite

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 03:39 AM

Hence my suggestion we try to view all (or at least most) events as positive.
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#5 Callipygous

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 06:09 AM

viewing it positive is the key. being negative is a downward spiral. the client shows up late, if you view it poorly, and then you call the restraunt and find out their booked the odds of you viewing that event positively are slim, you see it as one more thing on the list of bad. now its just two bad things in a row. if you had started positive with the client then you have the possibility of positive/negative, breaking even, or viewing both positive and coming out ahead.
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#6 Glider

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 07:28 AM

...Therefore, if you're having a "bad" day, the next must logically have a higher probability to be a "good" one. If the next day is another bad one, then the day after must logically have an even greater chance of being a good day, and in fact an excellent day.

This argument is based on the gambler's fallacy. This is the one that states "If, when tossing a coin, I throw a tail, the probability of my throwing a head in the next throw increases" which leads to "The more tails I throw on the trot, the higher my chances of throwing a head". This is not true. Each throw is an independent trial and each trial hold a 50% chance of throwing a head. It doesn't matter how many times you have previously thrown a tail.
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#7 Ophiolite

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 08:45 AM

But from a personal happiness/satisfaction perspective the problem is thinking that luck comes in roughly equal amounts of good and bad. That conditions us to expect a certain amount of bad luck. Not a sensible approach to life.
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#8 Glider

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 03:35 PM

True. These expectations can also lead to self-fulfilling prophesy, which further confirm our beliefs.
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#9 1veedo

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 06:36 PM

This argument is based on the gambler's fallacy. This is the one that states "If, when tossing a coin, I throw a tail, the probability of my throwing a head in the next throw increases" which leads to "The more tails I throw on the trot, the higher my chances of throwing a head". This is not true. Each throw is an independent trial and each trial hold a 50% chance of throwing a head. It doesn't matter how many times you have previously thrown a tail.

Oh, yes. I didn't realize that. I think this is sortof the same thing that mossoi was talking about. I was more trying to say what I've posted bellow but I guess what I typed sliped my mind.

Even so, one will at least know that the bad luck cant go on forever. It must eventually, around the corner, be a bright future. Unless you have bad luck consistently; the average is low.

However, even you have to admit that w/ 10 heads in a row, after another 50 throws, the probability would be much closer to 1:1. And after say 1000, the average would be most likely right on the money....The more times you 'throw the dice,' the closer to average it would become. I used to have a program in C++ the demonstrated this but I dont think it was saved before my last format :( It wouldn't take very long to reproduce but people here probably understand probability enogh that I dont have to demonstrate it. (I used it another forum, but that was a year or so ago and probably no longer there)

So in a way, as long as the average is pretty much constant* then it's safe to say that no matter how bad somebody's life is going, it must eventually get better.

*After 20, 50, whatever years, the line is going to be pretty much set. A couple events are not going to deviate the line by any large factor.
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#10 mossoi

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 01:43 AM

In which case no matter how well your life is going, it must eventually get worse.

Personally I see this way of thinking as far from positive. If things are going badly then 'fate' will make things better, if things are going well then it's inevitable that things will go wrong.

If this is to be believed then what would be the point in trying? If things are going badly there's no reason to make an effort to improve them because 'cosmic hamony' will step in for you. If things are going well there's no point making them better because said 'cosmic harmony' will piss on your bonfire whatever you do.

It smack of bad psychology, the sort that leads to people blaming everything but themselves for their problems.
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#11 Nevermore

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 04:47 AM

So, are you saying that if I break my arm, my chances of somthing good happening increase? I think not. Luck has no mass, therefore no physics can apply to it.
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#12 YT2095

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 03:41 PM

we make our own luck.

it`s been proven too!
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#13 boxhead

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 03:49 PM

we make our own luck.

it`s been proven too!


really lucky dude.
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#14 YT2095

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 04:00 PM

Indeed I am!

although the random distribution of "bad" events in my life seems to outweigh the good ones when I`m reminded of them by a 3`rd party, on the whole I feel really lucky most of the time, and often have difficulty in remembering BAD events accurately.

taken from an objective stance, the last few years have been absolute HELL for me, but I only seem to rem the Good things accurately and the bad ones are somewhat vague and don`t conjure up the original emotion as it did back then.

and yes, I still find money on the floor quite regularly (for example).
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#15 1veedo

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 09:30 PM

So, are you saying that if I break my arm, my chances of somthing good happening increase? I think not. Luck has no mass, therefore no physics can apply to it.

I didn't say your chances of something good happen will increase. It cannot increase. The probability stays the same. I'm saying that you can be positive because it is not possible for things to continue going bad. Logically, although entirely possible.

Mossoi I think has found something though. I was being bright, I guess, and never realized that if things are goign good then something bad is inevitably going to happen...things cant stay good forever. But at least things even out.

But nor cna they stay bad ;)

and yes, I still find money on the floor quite regularly (for example).

That's not really the kind of luck I'm talking about. For lack of a better word, 'luck' represents the average of positives and negatives in somebody's life through time.
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#16 Sayonara

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 08:50 AM

continue[/i'] going bad. Logically, although entirely possible.

Despite the observable evidence that many people have shit lives that grow steadily worse until they die horribly, whereas others have blessed existences and never know any grief?
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#17 Void

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 09:23 PM

Sounds a bit like regression toward the mean, no? An example would be repeated adminstration of tests to a group of people. The individuals who score high and low on the first adminstration are likely to score lower and higher (respectively, controlling for practice effects) the second time around. They have "regressed" toward the mean score of the group.
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#18 apuldube

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 09:46 PM

If we try to plot events (whether good or bad) on a graph, your perspective towards and mental and emotional resiliance would decide which quadrant they fall in.
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