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First off, I need to establish the fact that I'm not superstitious.

I happily walk underneath ladders, mostly because I'm seldom aware enough of my surroundings to know that's what I'm doing. Any black cat that crosses my path, at least while I'm driving, will find out pretty quickly it's he who is the victim of both bad luck and my rather languid reaction times.

Our kids and their friends have turned our house into their own personal Busch Stadium for so long broken mirrors (and lamps and vases and, occasionally, kids) are a fact of life, rather than a cause for concern. I'd like to believe in karma, particularly when someone cuts me off in traffic. But if it does exist, chances are it cuts both ways, so better to let sleeping dogma lie.

I don't insist on wearing a lucky shirt, because as a rational adult, I realize draping yourself in a few pieces of fabric can have absolutely no impact on the outcome of an event. And because my "not lucky but coincidentally linked to the success of my favorite team" shirt spontaneously (more or less) combusted. And wasn't offered up in a combination gift to the forces that control athletic outcomes and attempt to rid my life of the bad juju that resulted in a completely undeserved win by the University of Texas. Not sure which one, specifically, since, basically they all are.

So, no, I don't believe there are unseen, unknowable forces guiding outcomes that have to be appeased with things like four-leaf clovers and offerings of salt over the shoulder.

Instead, I believe in rigorous scientific study and analysis. Which should come as a total surprise to any of the folks who tried to teach me both rigorous scientific study and analysis over the years. All I can say is, well, maybe I'm just defining terms a little differently these days. And if you don't like that, get your own column.

For instance, after years and years of that rigorous scientific study and analysis stuff, I've determined that a version of the Butterfly Effect, the idea that a butterfly moving its wings on one side of the world can produce air movement that results in a hurricane on the other, does exist.

What my study has determined is that the location of a grown man relative to the television set on a consistent (or constant) basis will, in fact, impact the actions of a group of young men and women hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.

Call it the "Flying Pig Effect." Because, well, just because.

Ridiculous, you say? Well, hey, I've seen it with my own slightly gullible eyes. And who am I to doubt science?

Of course, one of the keys to rigorous scientific study and analysis is the ability to recognize that circumstances change. And those circumstances are so subtle that even I don't understand them, only their impacts. Which means I constantly have to be on the lookout for signs. Say, a solo home run that requires me to shift my position from the sofa to the breakfast bar. And back, just in case that wasn't it. I mean, the key to rigorous scientific study and analysis is constant testing.

Years of observing my rigorous scientific study and analysis by my children has produced Newton's apples (see what I did there?) that fall fairly close to the tree. For instance, my oldest son doesn't have "lucky slippers." He has exceptionally comfortable footwear he prefers to have on, and, through analysis, has determined will influence actions and outcomes.

So here we are, a family of learners dedicated to a lifetime of rigorous scientific ... ya, ya,ya, whatever. Not a motley collection of rabid sports fans trying desperately to do what little we can to exert some measure of influence on outcomes through measures that have so little bearing on the actual games themselves that believing soda pop bottles ejected from airplanes are gifts from the gods makes sense by comparison.

To be a fan is to know a deep, abiding sense of loss and potential disaster. By the very nature of athletic endeavor, you're destined, if not to lose more than you win, at least lose the ones that matter the most and leave the biggest bruises.

So if we fall back on a type of thinking that would make cave dwellers trying to prompt the rising of the sun proud, who can blame us? Except that's not the way we think of ourselves.

We're scientists.

Commentary on 06/29/2018

Print Headline: Not superstitious

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