Best. Fortune cookie. Ever.
I don't believe in the ability to predict the future.
That is, I'm sure it would be possible, given enough information – at a purely mechanical level, everything is just a matter of cause and effect. But unless you're a deity, you don't have access to that infinite amount of detail. You're certainly not going to get it from horoscopes, Tarot cards or tea leaves. In fact, there's not a single method of fortune-telling that the scientific part of my brain is willing to accept.
Yet at the same time, I can't resist it. I'll always scan my horoscope if I happen to stumble across it. I love seeing what it says inside my fortune cookie. I even read cards and runes and suchlike for my family at new year. I'm perfectly aware that none of it is true. Yet if I get a positive prediction, it makes me feel happy. I don't believe it – but, simultaneously, I do.
I suspect this desire to have our fortunes told comes from the human need to feel safe in the face of uncertainty. None of us know what's going to happen. We long for particular things, but we have no idea if we'll get them. For all we know, instead of the big promotion we're hoping for, we'll get run over by a bus. So we cling to predictions as a way of convincing ourselves it will all turn out OK and that we really are the special people we think we are. (It's noticeable how readily someone will pick out the parts of a prediction they like or that fit with what they want, and completely discard the rest.)
Conversely, larger-scale predictions seem to focus exclusively on death and disaster; I've never heard of a single ancient prophecy that foretold anything nice. And famously, 2012 is meant to be when the world is going to end. Judging by the other doomsday predictions that have come and gone in recent years, I don't set much store by that either. It's probably just a misinterpretation of something completely different. But if I'm wrong, you have my permission to say I told you so as we all evaporate in a burst of flame and smoke.
Oh, and by the way – the fortune cookie in the picture? That prediction didn't come true either. I'm still waiting for my rebate.
20/4/2012 06:20:38 am
I totally get your perspective on this. In some ways, as Fox Mulder would say "I want to believe".
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