Thursday, November 29, 2012

Voodoo Dice

Human beings are a superstitious lot. Some people get weirded out by the number 13 -it's one of my favorite numbers actually, or think black cats are bad luck-I have two (well, 'sable': black but they shine red in sunlight) and count myself lucky to be their human.  In Belarus it's considered bad luck to whistle when inside your home: that you're whistling your money away.  Inka always chastises me when I do that. I laugh, it sounds like a silly notion...but then again, I am pretty poor, so who knows.  There's a host of others I don't pay much attention to. I count myself a pretty 'rational minded' person while still being fairly open minded since I can't know everything, nor have experienced everything in the universe, and stands to reason that if one age's magic is another age's science, some things might turn out to be 'rational' that was once 'irrational'.
Probably not most, but some? You never know.

Gamers, being human, must therefore also have some superstitions.  Like painted miniatures fight better. True.  Named miniatures also fight better.. of course,why wouldn't they? But dice, being the gateway of chance, have the most rituals and beliefs associated with them.

Some people blow on their dice. Some people threaten their dice. Some people switch out poorly performing dice with fresh dice. Some have lucky dice they always use. Some won't use other people's dice or let others use their dice.  For me, I will switch dice if the ones I'm using seem to be failing. If I get to 're-roll' a die, I'll use a different die than the one I just rolled. There is nothing rational about such behaviors, at least by the reason for the laws of physics and probability as we know it.  But many do them anyway, listening to some instinct that interprets reality differently than pure rational thought does.


I bring this up, after a comment from battybattybats on my last update.  It made me think of, what many would clearly declare a superstition, of 'spelling' dice: using thought, visualization, willpower, jedi mind trick, whatever you'd want to call it, to get the die result you want.  Voodoo dice if you will. The idea is, if you need to roll a 6, you concentrate on 6, roll the dice and have a better than 1 in 6 of getting that result.  Maybe harder to swallow than the Xener cards since dice don't have a mind thinking of the number for your brain to 'pick up' on.  At any rate, it involves a bit more than declaring 'baby needs a new pair of shoes' but the idea is similar.  Obviously a superstition but could there be something to it?

A couple decades ago my friend and I, who played in the Turkey Bowl with me, would do this all the time when playing wargames and there really did seem to be more to it than random chance would think is reasonable.  But then again, as Rosencrantz said, since a coin tossed is just as likely to be heads as tails one shouldn't be surprised if it always comes up heads. Hmm.
Maybe not the best authority.  
We got so good at this we'd be trying to out-think-at the dice of each other to get what we wanted.  A fun competition within the competition.

So if that is real, why would I have runs of bad luck where the dice go against me, and if someone can do this, why don't they spend a month in Vegas and retire to an island?

Maybe there is nothing to it and it's all perception.  Then again, when I was in the last years of high school I got very good at controlling my dreams. I'd think of what I wanted to dream about and I would. I continued this until I did complete lucid dreaming. I could control my actions and what happened in the dream-world.  Like writing a story that you see, hear and feel. I did this for many years.  These days, no. In fact, my dreams tend to be bad and go against me now. Too much stress, depression and anxiety.  It's rare I enjoy dreams now- though they're as odd and surreal as they ever were.  So this leads back to dice. What if I am influencing the dice with my thoughts, but now, after experiencing so many horrible things in my life, having learned to expect problems and attacks, I anticipate the worst, so even in a relaxing game a thought like "this will work as long as I don't roll a 1 on the go for it and a 1 on the re-roll" and then I do just that.  Like the scared-shitless family trying desperately not to think bad thoughts or Billy Mumy will send them to the cornfield.

It could be superstitious nonsense unless the mind can influence the physical world outside the body, independent of physical contact. But that stretches "rational" pretty thin.

But then I thought of another possible interpretation. You're probably aware of the theory for parallel worlds from multiple dimensions.  It's the theory I favor for Time Travel, to avoid paradoxes: if you go back in time, it creates a new parallel world since it alters the course of time: your world continues on as it was, and you're now in a new one.  You probably also have heard how sub-atomic particles can move faster than light, 'teleport' and be in more than one place at a time.  If thoughts, memory and consciousness are electrical, and effectively made up of these particles, what if it is not the brain altering physical objects and events, but 'selecting' the parallel world where the outcome is the one it 'sees' from imagining the concept, and the consciousness then jumps to that existence. The you that you know as you has now moved across to the nearly identical world and things carry on as normal, for that world.  Such a small change isn't noticeable, only a die result of a 6 instead of 1.

If that could be, imagine what a person could experience and travel to as this ability flexes and becomes capable of greater jumps.

Unfortunately, it's probably just random chance.  But... hmm.

Have any of your own Dice Superstitions?

Enjoy the Movie!

7 comments:

M R Lee said...

Heh.. always like these articles from you. Indeed I also swap out dice for a re-roll. I also try to keep 6 dice in the hand at a time. So when I roll I usually pull from those 6 dice, and immediately put them back into my hand after the results are found.
They are mine.. my.. precious.. :)

Andrew J. McCory said...

Good topic. I am in the 'threatening his dice' category. I whisper to them before rolling, 'now get me a six, or else!...' It usually works.

battybattybats said...

Cool response to my comment! It makes me wonder if we could get some sort of mass wargame-blogger experiment going Rupert Sheldrake style.

As for my own superstitious behaviour, well that turns out to be a very long comment too so i've put it into a blogpost at http://mywarrocketblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/dice-superstitions/

Tristan M said...

I often talk to dice (both mine and my opponents) mostly because it works! My theory on it is pretty out there, so I won't go into it here, but suffice to say shouting "BLITZ" usually gets me a 10 on the kick off table, "double skulls!" will have my opponent's piece go down and nothing is better then saying "casualty" and getting that 10+ :)

Paul´s Bods said...

I´ve got an even better method...paint 6 dots on all 6 sides...works a treat andyou can do it with your eyes closed thinking of something entirely different :-D
Dream controlling? have you heard of Astral projection?
Cheers
paul

Anne said...

My dreams are all bad too these days, perhaps a reflection of the reality I try to get away from in waking hours.

This made me think of Stevie Wonders song Superstition-a really good tune.

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks MrLee :) I enjoy blithering as well as rants- just wandering wherever thoughts take me. Well as long as you don't threaten to eat anyone who mistakenly puts your dice in their pocketsess ;)

Andrew: but what if it doesn't? what do you do to follow up on your threat?

Thanks batty :) and I agree: best to have dice colors that match your force!

Tristan: sounds very similar.. declare what the result will be, and it will be.

Paul: ah yes, not sure that really counts though ;) I'm probably a skeptic in all things, but skeptic doesn't mean refuse to believe, just means won't jump to believe without reason and experience. I did experience what what could be called astral projection once. weird weird weird experience. wasn't complete though- laying down for many hours once, just zoning-meditating, and could 'feel' myself float-standing and 'see' from that perspective, though was lying down, but could feel my feet attached to my feet, like I was a near weightless body attached to my body, by my feet. hard to describe because couldn't feel weight, but sensed it, like not standing up straight, but leaning forward over center of gravity while someone holds your shirt to keep you from falling. Was very -odd-. And a bit freaky, thinking 'what if I 'let go'? what would happen, and could I let go, and if could, how to get back? hard to know if just imagination, odd feeling from meditative trance, or something more to it. only time that happened so couldn't say.

Anne: yeah, sounds about right, and can relate. a bad situation makes its way into dreams, giving you no peace.

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