Luck, be a professor

You may have heard of professor Richard Wiseman — a British psychologist famous for debunking irrational ideas. Well, today he released a study about the usefulness of lucky charms. The result? According to The Learning Channel:

In the study, 100 people around Britain were asked to take a supposedly lucky Victorian-era penny coin with them for a month, and to keep a diary as to how their fortunes changed in areas such as finance and health.

While the University of Hertfordshire psychologists found no measurable difference in how fate had actually favored these people, 30 percent felt their luck had taken a turn for the better.

As it turns out, the only genuinely verifiable effect is that carrying a lucky charm enhances your confidence: “When it comes to totally chance events like the lottery, it made no difference, but when it comes to luck in life, it made a real difference in terms of opportunities and confidence,” as Wiseman put it.

(Thanks to Plastic for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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