The prime bases of Luck

Two conditions are required for an outcome to involve luck:

i) Significance: The outcome should matter to us one way or the other. Hence harm or benefit should be present

ii) Predictive intractability: The outcome should be fortuitous and involve an element of unforeseeability. Luck’s presence is unavoidable due to our decidedly limited predictive and cognitive capabilities. The future is naturally inaccessible to us because we don’t know the operative laws and the requisite data or because the inferences needed to acquire knowledge from laws and data involve complexities beyond the reach of our predictive capabilities. Contingency and ignorance are our natural impediments to prediction:

  • Pure Chance: Genuinely random processes which do not confirm to any sort of definite, outcome-determinative rule.
  • Chaos: Deterministic processes in which one and the same set of observationally identical initial conditions can eventuate different results.
  • Choice: People’s capacity for free, predictively intractable choice.
  • Cognitive imperfections: Ignorance, error, bias and misinformation


Useful reading:

Luck: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life

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7 thoughts on “The prime bases of Luck

  1. Gaby SG says:

    What about the Pique’s doing in luck? the unconscious human actions that affect the result of future circumstances.

  2. thinks says:

    Hmmm… I think you are talking about the directional arrow of time and the human experience of the infinite possibilities that become past each infinitesimal moment that time moves in the direction of the arrow. Of course, if we are standing in a field, and at the other side of the fence another person stands in the next field, Santa’s sleigh flies overhead and a gift accidentally drops just on the inside of the fence in the other person’s field, that person is lucky and we are unlucky, unless we do not wish to receive proof that Santa exists, in which case we are both lucky. OK, that was a little far fetched… cheers!

    • Gaby SG says:

      Meaning that luck doesn’t exist without the comparative point between the lucky and the unlucky one, well of course haha.

      What i meant was much more dull i must confess, i tried to refer to the unconscious actions that lead the individual to reach a goal that might bee conceived as ”luck” because of its non-consciousness nature.

      Jezz I’m sorry I can’t make it clear even to myself, cheers.

    • epanechnikov says:

      Good example thinks. I quite like it 🙂

  3. Chaos: Deterministic processes in which one and the same set of observationally identical initial conditions can eventuate different results.

    Excellent definition!

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