Friday, January 20, 2006

Hot chocolate

Lemme ask you a question. Let's say you really like hot chocolate. It makes you feel all warm inside quite unlike anything else can do. And let's suppose there's this little shop where you go to get hot chocolate whenever you can. But every time you go in there, something bad happens. One day, you'll go in there and burn your tongue. Another day, you'll spill it on yourself and burn your leg or stain your clothes. Another day, you'll burn your hand on a cup. Each time you go in there, you make up your mind to be extra careful this time, but no matter how careful you are, something bad still happens.

Wouldn't you eventually wise up? Wouldn't you eventually come to realize that the next time you go in there, the same thing is going to happen? Wouldn't you stop going in there just to prevent it?

And it doesn't matter whose fault it is either. Whether it's your fault for being clumsy, the hot chocolate's fault for being hot, or somebody else's fault for whatever reason, you still get burned every single time. It seems to me, you ought to stop going in there. It's not worth it.


At 1/20/2006 2:24 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Hmm, I might think it was worth the trouble for the yumminess of the hot chocolate. I might think that there was only a chance connection between the problems and the hot chocolate, and that tomorrow may be brighter ("we all need something to hope for, after all"). I might think I could devise some means of mitigating the side-effects of my tastes. I might demand that society conform to my love of hot chocolate and make the world safe for me to fulfill my desires.

Can't wait to see where you're going with this.

At 1/20/2006 3:18 PM , Blogger Jeff Travis Henderson said...

I don't know, I would probably think that it was an illusory correlation. Even though it seems like every time I go into the Hot Chocolate place, I get hurt, I see no way that the Hot Chocolate place could be the ulitimate cause of all of these events.

At 1/20/2006 7:13 PM , Blogger Jeff said...

First, the pain of these mishaps would have to be greater than the joy of the hot chocolate (either physical or emotional).

If it were, I'd still have the correlation problem. In your scenario it's a different mishap each time. Since the same mishap doesn't continue to happen repeatedly I'd doubt the correlation and keep trying for a time. How long a time? Well, depends on how superstitious I am. For in this example it's not a direct correlation, it's rather indirect (ie. a 'curse').

It would only take probably 2 ocurrences of a direct causal problem such as an employee spilling on me to keep me out of there!

At 1/20/2006 9:42 PM , Blogger Steve said...

unless of course its a test of your ability to withstand adversity! In which case, wising up would be giving up!

For example, lets say everytime you tell the truth something bad happens. Should you, in the face of such a challenge, stop telling the truth?

At 1/22/2006 9:17 AM , Blogger daleliop said...

I think we should answer this from the perspective of the hot chocolate.

How would you feel if you knew you were hot stuff but everyone you came into contact with didn't want to come near you again?

It'd be punfully depressing!

At 1/23/2006 9:07 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

Dale, that was very funny!

Steve, you ask a great question! We do know that telling the truth is a moral virtue. We should keep telling the truth in spite of adversity.

Do you agree?

At 1/23/2006 9:28 AM , Blogger DagoodS said...

I would suspect it is a result of my heightened awareness due to the anticipation of hot chocolate, and there was no correlation. Just like we think it only rains on our vacation, or we always are stopped by every traffic light when we are late, or we cannot get out of work on time on the day of the big game.

The reality is that it rains all the time, we are stopped by traffic lights all the time, and work keeps us after hours on many occasions. We are just more cognizant of it when we have heightened awareness. In this situation, we burn our hands on hot pans, and get spills from ketchup at other times; it is the anticipation of this special treat that raises our awareness. And, after a while, we have the ability to “self-fulfill” the expected yumminess/curse. Having to wait in line is a curse. The cup isn’t filled to the rim is a curse. The chocolate wasn’t as hot as usual is a curse. We can contrive any simple thing to claim that no matter what we do, something went wrong and therefore we are “cursed” and cannot go there without something bad happening.

With such a mindset, we can eventually convince ourselves the only way to prevent it, is to stop going there.

At 1/23/2006 2:14 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Good points Dag. Maybe if we had some relevant comparisons with other places we go for favorite foods, cocktails, music, etc.

At 1/23/2006 6:09 PM , Blogger Jeff said...

Dag, I find myself guilty of that 'curse' mindset sometimes! :O

But I think Sam's scenario works though. It seems he was careful enough to demonstrate that there was something objectively happening at the hot chocolate shop in this regard.

These weren't events that happen all the time such as your examples. They were rather rare accidental occurrences.


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