Mind games

When I was a kid, I thought I’d give psychism a go and see if I could predict things to prove myself clairvoyant. This didn’t last too long. Things I tried to predict didn’t happen, and I was kind of relieved, because it seemed the only things that were predictable (or unpredictable, for that matter) were catastrophic events.

At some point, I think I realized I could use my 0% prediction rate as a shield in some long-running psychological warfare. When I was in my 20s, I started to become more worried about things, more focused on the risks of everything. I started to imagine those fears, unintentionally, and then somewhat more intentionally, using statistics to assure myself that all the awful scenarios I thought through were ~0% likely to manifest.

I don’t recommend this approach. There can be merits (preparedness, self-understanding), but you can cultivate these in other ways. For me this was a way of doing something with runaway worries when I couldn’t eradicate them.

It is funny when you write a thing and then you immediately come across the same thing in a New Yorker cartoon:

Noth cartoon

Cartoon by Paul Noth, published in the February 12 & 19, 2024 issue of the New Yorker (link).

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