#2. The Regression Fallacy
You’ll Hear it As:
“If this cock ring isn’t lucky, then how come I got that new job when I was wearing it?”
How It Screws Us:
Human beings are hardwired to see patterns. Seeing links and connections between various stimuli is a big part of how people navigate complex environments. Back in the earlier days of our evolution, it helped us to hunt and find food; today it helps us deal with people, keep track of large amounts of information and figure out just what the fuck is happening on Lost.
But misfires in pattern recognition create all sorts of weirdness, particularly in the form of superstition. You’re playing the slots, losing and losing, when suddenly an obese woman next to you farts. You hit the jackpot, and suddenly you’re convinced her colon houses gaseous magic. You’re following her around the casino the rest of the day, continually asking if she wants one of these extra burritos you happen to have lying around.
It Gets Worse…
A great example of The Regression Fallacy is the alleged “Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.” The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx is a supposed curse where athletes who appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated will then become terrible or have a run of bad luck afterward (there’s a similar belief about Madden Football). Forgetting that Michael Jordan was on the cover 49 times and never had a slump, everyone fails to realize that people are often on the cover of the magazine at the height of their careers, so they’re bound to get worse. Big fluctuations are natural in an athlete’s career, as is a downward level of skill.
That’s why they call it the Regression Fallacy, because any trend is going to regress back to where it normally is. Crime goes way up in the city, they elect a new mayor, and crime goes down. Wow! This mayor is magic! Or maybe he’s secretly Batman! Actually, the crime increase was out of the ordinary and crime was destined to fall back to its normal level. But the mayor–and countless other politicians and gurus–will make an entire career out of exploiting the Regression Fallacy.
The rest at Cracked.com