Beginner's Luck

Why does it exist, and how widespread is the phenomenon?

It doesn’t exist, there is no such thing as luck. Luck is an excuse for people with no skills who don’t understand probibilites.

It doesn’t exist, there is no such thing as luck. Luck is an excuse for people with no skills who don’t understand probibilites.

I think it’s a selection effect. When you try it for the first time and do well, you’re likely to continue and then don’t do quite as well. You fondly remember the first time where you had “beginner’s luck.” Those who don’t do well the first time are less likely to continue.

Um, yes Stinky… we are going on the assumption that everyone realizes that “luck” is the term we assign to a low-probability event happening either on the first few times something is attempted or unusually frequently due to coincidence.

That being said, “beginer’s luck” can sometimes happen when someone doesn’t realize how unlikely they are to succeed at something and hence don’t subconciously hold back when trying it… so it’s not so much luck as putting in an uninhibited effort; the old “he didn’t know it was impossible” line.

You sometimes notice that people who are pessimistic or who think too much tend not to have much luck at certain things, while people who are very positive or shall we say not quite so up to speed on probabilities just blunder in and do it anyways and overall tend to have more luck.

Luck is a subjective thing - it is a view we take of the outcome of events. The events themselves are not lucky or unlucky, only thinking makes them so.

There was a man sitting in a bar, crying into his beer. The bar man asked him what was wrong.

He said, "I’m depressed, because I’m so unlucky. Two years ago, my aunt died and left me a million dollars. Last year, I won a million dollars in the lottery. "

“But why are you so depressed about your luck?” asked the bar man.

“This year, nothing at all.”

There are other factors to be considered; I won my first ever game of chess (against a fairly experienced player); reasons for this might include that he was ‘going easy’ on me, that he was off guard (because he didn’t expect me to win) and that he was devoting more concentration to teaching me than he was to playing his side of the game.

Humans only remember the unusual outcomes.

Say I sit down to take part in a game where the odds of winning are 1 in 500. I know this, of course.

Case A: I lose. Do I remember this? Not at all, because what I expected happened. I can gain no evolutionary advantage by remembering this event, it’s not new knowledge.

Case B: I win. I remember this, because it is highly unexpected. When all the hominids are sitting around the campfire swapping lies, I trot out this story. Guess what happened to me once? I won at a game where the odds were crappy! Isn’t that amazing? Naturally the experienced hominids will jump in and point out that over time I could expect not to win, because they don’t, that it was peculiar that I won, that it must have been lucky, I must have had beginner’s luck. Or I may say that to myself, someday later on.

Humans are disastrous at intuiting the nature of random events, because nature has provided us with a huge appetite for meaning: we seek order in the most chaotic of data.

Well, there is the zen idea of “Beginner’s Mind.” This is when we are open to all possibilities without any preconceptions to what can or can’t happen, such as when one tries an unfamiliar thing for the first time. I do believe that such a mindset exists, and that most so-called Beginner’s luck is connected to this mental state. Once you start thinking you know what a thing is, having preconceptions of what qualifies as success, etc., beginner’s mind evaporates, taking “luck” with it.