when machines hate humans

I have several friends that claim that “machines hate them”. This is usually evidenced by the fact that computers constantly crash on them… electronic equipment in general, often works poorly or not at all in their presence… their cars turn out to be lemons… and they tend to go through a unnatural number of light bulbs.
The theories I have heard for this seem to all revolve around a human’s personal electical (or magnetic) field.
Has any study been done upon this? Any dopers have this problem? Any solutions?

Should such a study be contemplated, I’d think competence would be one variable to control.

The Perfect Master has a few things to say about people who extinguish streetlamps by means of their bodily eminations.

I seem to have a knack for crashing electronic equipment though, thankfully, not my own. Some notable achievements over the years have been:

  1. A Sharp El-9600 Graphics Calculator, froze and did not work without me having to take the Batteries out and back in to reset it.

  2. A Casio Scientific Calculator, froze with every LCD segment on and would ot work without a hard restart (pusing pin in the back)

  3. Hi Opal!

  4. A digital alarm clock had it in my front pocket and it just froze at 10:31. had to restart it.

Going by the current trend, I think my next victory would be a digital wrist watch but it hasnt happened yet. I knew a guy who managed to freeze a microwave oven and I think that tops most things so far.

I frequently argue with my friends about phenomena like this. Cecil’s streetlamp article has the right idea, I believe.

Confirmation Bias: When the event happens, since it confirms one’s idea, it is remembered. When the event does not happen, it is ignored.

Availability Heuristic: When queried about the phenomenon, the memories available to a person happen to be those that confirm the idea.
Further, there is evidence that atypical events are more often used for information (Sommers, social psych work, though), which would lead to a lot of superstitions and specious ideas because people would only notice rare events, like breaking technology, and these would be used as information for heuristic formation.

Issac Asimov wrote a good short story (ScFi) about this subject.

He wrote many stories about robots and developed the Laws of Robotics:

[ul][1]- A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm

[2]- A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

[3]- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.[/ul]

kniz I’m quite familiar with Asimov (I write my papers for English on him), but I’m not quite seeing the point you were getting at. Either its because your link wasn’t working for me or I’m just being blind, but could you elaborate?

(This could be my own superstitious synthesis from observations, but…)

There are a lot of people out there who are clueless about technology and do Stupid Stuff to things without realizing that these Stupid Things are Real Bad Ideas and Make Things Break.

Calculators, PDAs, floppy disks and such get shoved in purses or backpacks and are highly abused. They break. The Idgit User doesn’t put 2 and 2 together and realize that maybe they ought to take better care of things. This goes for even new things that people connect wrong, try to insert upside down, etc.

Folks, all these things are made for the lowest possible price and still arrive on the store shelf intact. Look at VCRs, I just shipped an old Sony and it weighed nearly 25 pounds. It has metal inside of it. Modern VCRs are not just made with plastic, but a tiny bit of plastic. Since people are stupid enough to buy $90 VCRs, that means you can’t buy a decent $200 VCR anymore. And guess how quickly those $90 VCRs are going to disintegrate when in the hands of an Idgit User?

That doesn’t prove anything – Windows computers crash for everyone. :wink: