Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Placebo Effect Of Good Luck Charms

How did you wake up yesterday morning? Did you jump right out of bed and embrace the sunrise or did you hang on to your pillow and hit the snooze alarm several times, only to finally crawl from the warmth of your bed groggily into another day?

What happened after you got up? Was it a good day? Were you feeling lucky? Maybe you wished you had stayed in bed because things didn't go so well?

The other night my friend and I were having one of those meandering discussions covering a myriad of topics and somehow we got onto the subject of good luck charms. We have all had something at some point we considered to bring us good luck, whether we took it very seriously or not is another story.

What makes something lucky though? Is it just superstition? It is said that we create our own luck. I think that's true. I think it all comes down to a placebo effect and a self imposed power of suggestion. If we believe something is lucky it will be because we are pouring our positive thoughts and energy into that notion. In fact the item is most likely inert and is just a tool that helps us believe in ourselves and allows us to succeed. Therefore any item under the sun could be lucky if you believe it is.

We all need something to believe in. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting you replace religion, family or your sense of self worth with a rabbits foot. But sometimes we all need that little something extra.

I have a lucky coin. It's a Disneyland game token. It has a nice picture of Mickey on one side and the castle on the other. Every time I get scratch cards, if I use that coin to scratch them off I win. Sure it's silly, but it works. Because somewhere in murky depths of my brain the logic is...the coin came from the "Magic Kingdom" so therefore it carries some magic with it. But in truth it works because I believe I will win so I have focused my postive thoughts on that. Energy attracts like energy. Basic physics.

Tonight I watched yet another show where scientists predict our gruesome future filled with famine, drought, plagues and pestilence of all sorts leading to our eventual end. Every time I watch one of these shows I find myself wondering why they keep putting them on TV? Why are we so obsessed with the end of humanity and the world as we know it?

It's not that I have deluded myself into thinking we are never going to run out of natural resources or that we can't have bad things happen if we don't change. No, the reason I keep wondering why they put this stuff on TV is because I am afraid if they keep hammering this notion into people they are going to make it happen. These dire warnings constantly tossed out by the scientific community are very negative in their presentation. They are focusing their energy and slowly but surely ours into thinking we are doomed. So much for feeling lucky huh?

I don't understand why they can't present it in a positive way. Instead of saying what can happen, why not say what we can do to keep it from happening. Give people ideas. Give them hope. Give them something to believe in. In the show I watched, they spent 1 hour and 48 minutes telling us the dire things that will come to pass and 12 vague minutes telling us how we might be able to change it. If you ask me that's pretty flawed.

If you asked most scientists about your lucky charm, they would scoff at you for believing in superstitious nonsense. Maybe that's the problem, maybe these people who are supposed to be using their brains for the good of humanity are a little too serious. Maybe they could use something to believe in other than facts and figures so that they can believe in themselves a little more. So they can pour their positive thoughts into helping us all believe that we will survive because as human beings we are resilient and have a huge self preservation drive.

Maybe scientists should just pause to accept the magic of a four leaf clover or a lucky cap instead of telling us when there won't be any more of those things. Maybe the placebo effect would work it's magic on them the way it does on the rest of us, because in our innocent, superstitious ways we believe we will survive. And if we believe it, I think we will be able to bring that luck to us all.

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