memes and false significance

Suppose you observe something and ascribe to it some specal significance out of scale with the actual event due to the nature of the observation. For example, almost any form of divination, fortune cookies, and the like. Is there a name for that sort of psychological irrationality?

I finally broke down and did the page 23 meme where you grab the nearest book, turn to page 23, read the fifth line, and read your fortune. Mine read “This last relation is Bayes’ rule, and it will play a crucial role in our thinking about the neural code.” I think these things are bunk, but that sentence sounds suspiciously like a forecast for my life.

0 thoughts on “memes and false significance

  1. My page 23 fortune is: “I was bought by Mr. Walter Weidman and given to his wife, who kept me in her house in Frankfurt until 1938, when the family fled from the the Nazis and moved to Milwaukee.”

    Yeah, it’s bunk. Unless I was a grand piano in another life.

    And I think the word you are looking for is “superstition.” Don’t forget my favorite form — when athletes don’t change or wash their socks during a hot streak. I have some great olfactory memories from the hockey locker rooms.

  2. it seems more specific then general old superstition, though. something about how people prefer to hear good news than bad, or people tend to make everything they see somehow relevant to themselves.

  3. I agree with the prediliction for perceiving relevence in events that are highly likely unrelated. I don’t see the link to good news preferable to bad?

    What if page 23 were to be blank or to only hold a picture?

    Anyway, I had two books equidistant.
    Book 1:
    Page 23 yields the unpromising “The domain of the Second Law is corruption and decay, and we shall see what extraordinarily wonderful things take place when quality gives way to chaos.”

    Book 2:’s a stage direction, but a sentence nonetheless. Also perhaps not promising.
    “She waits a second, Isobel lost for an answer.”

  4. I got “La siguiente tabla explica los pasos: Edad para recibir beneficios completos de Seguro Social”

    yes.. quite prophetic??!?!

  5. oh dear:

    invent a thermal detector of some sort: not necessarily convenient, nor repeatable, nor salable, but one that would detect electromagnetic energy.

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