Luck vs Choice?

So, one of the questions I tend to ask myself, as I talk to people who can’t troubleshoot simple machinery, is to what extent did I get lucky and to what extent have my choices led me to where I am?

It’s a worthwhile question. Did a simple throw of the genetic dice, or the path that I was led down, lead to me being capable of understanding almost any human-made system? Or is it my repeated choices to read, to study, to attempt to fix things even when I don’t actually know how, to ask questions of other people, to – not to put too fine a point on it – continuously learn and evolve over the course of my life?

Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated when talking to people who are not as capable as I am and who repeatedly insist that they can’t do something. Pretty much everything built by humans can be understood by humans and fixed by humans. And I wonder, is this a choice they’re making? Do people choose to be less capable than they are biologically able to be? Sometimes it feels extremely choice-driven – and yet, I am not at all clear whether it is or not. Re: previous discussions on free will, I think that not everyone has as large a list of options in their ‘what can I choose to do right this second’ list as I do, and I think some of that is that the more you learn, the larger your free will window becomes. So people who haven’t been imbued with a can-do attitude and experienced validation of that attitude literally can’t choose to believe that they can i.e. troubleshoot their car.

I have also seen people create large numbers of imaginary obstacles for themselves before they ever even attempt the job at hand. Now, I should mention that I think memetic disempowerment is a systematic problem with humanity – recently someone reminded me of the quote “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” which I think is a *excellent* example of memetic disempowerment and one of the many reasons that Christianity deserves relegated to the dustbin of history. Yes, sure, believe you’re going to fail before try! That’ll help! I also think that there is a fair amount of memetic disempowerment that goes on in our educational system – repeatedly grading people is not likely to help them feel empowered unless they happened to start out at the top of the ladder – and in our consumer-driven world, since after all if you feel empowered enough you might not buy $WHATEVER.

I am sure I also create imaginary obstacles for myself, and I’m sure that I have also frustrated many people in the past in ways similar to how I am sometimes frustrated by others now. I do wonder, though, how much of this is a choice and how much of it is directed by the wiring and memetic programming?

Another question is, what do we owe those who can’t? The political powers that be would, it would seem, like to throw anyone who isn’t extremely capable in all areas under the bus – and I assume that sooner or later this will include me, since if we keep raising the hurdle, sooner or later I will not be able to jump it. It’s clear that if we wanted to feed and house everyone we could, but also that we feel warm and fuzzy about patting ourselves on the back as we throw those who are less capable under the bus. Personally, I think we should try and feed and clothe and house everyone – in fact, give everyone everything they want, to the extent of our capability – although there are those who argue that we wouldn’t enjoy things if we didn’t have to struggle for them.

I don’t know. Rereading this post, I feel kind of like it paints me as a awful person, and that isn’t really my intention at all.

3 Responses to “Luck vs Choice?”

  1. bunne Says:

    I think you’re on to something, here and I think I just figured something out.

  2. Firesong Says:

    I think you’re asking some interesting questions here. I believe that each person’s outcomes depend on a combination of chance/luck and choice/effort/work. Not everyone can make the choices you’ve made, and part of that is probably due to internal barriers we put up in our own way (or have put up for us, somewhere along the line). Part of it is … well, a roll of the dice. There are so many things that affect what we can do, each of us.

    I should probably write to you directly about this, heh. But for the record: thinking about this does not make you an awful person. You consider things — that’s what you do.

  3. Alderin Says:

    With a line like “Personally, I think we should try and feed and clothe and house everyone – in fact, give everyone everything they want, to the extent of our capability” how could this be a painting of an awful person?

    Blasphemous? Sacrilegious? Heretical? Sure! But not awful. 🙂

    The three words often synonimized with evil actually only mean someone who questions “the wrong things”. Personally, the rule “question everything” holds more truth, guides more carefully, and fulfills more completely, than any religious text. Feel free to question that, too.

    I found a guy on Youtube (because I had heard about a 6-legged robot design that only used 2 motors, capable of walking in any direction, while not using “skid-steer” methods) and he has a good video that aligns well with my current concepts.

    …and just in case there are some link-clobbering scripts in place, Youtube, watch?v=V6ZzShIsW7Q

    But long story short, I do not believe, either objectively or subjectively, that questioning the makeup and rules of this universe, can be considered a bad thing.

Leave a Reply