Statistical Karma

by Mr. Cheap

I wrote on my old site about positive thinking, and how I believe it actually does effect what happens to us in life. I don’t buy into any of the spirituality or mallarchy that some people surround it with, I just thinking there’s a psychological element that gives us the same result.

I have similar feelings about karma. For those who are out of date with their Indian religions (and who don’t watch “My Name is Earl“), basically karma is the idea that you will “get back” what you put out. If you do good things, good things will happen to you, if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you.

Strictly speaking, I believe originally the “rewards” of karma were supposed to occur in the next life, but the new age movement has created a “Big Mac” version of the concept that gives you back what you get ASAP (i.e. in this life). The Wiccan faith has an amusing idea of the “rule of three” which is that you get back three times what you put out (I guess they believe in compounding).

How I think it actually occurs in the real world is due to statistics rather than spirituality. If you do good things, eventually you’ll be nice to someone who will randomly be in a position to unexpectedly help you. One time when I interviewed one of the people involved was a horribly unsocial computer nerd. Being a horribly unsocial computer nerd myself, I was happy to chat him up, although I was convinced he wasn’t going to be very involved in the actual hiring decision (I assumed he was just going to be the “nerd translator” for the people who would actually make the decision). When I turned down the job because the salary was too low, I later found out that he marched into the CEO’s office and championed my cause for 10 minutes until a higher offer was made. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to swap a Babylon 5 joke or two over coffee before the “real interview” starts.

The flip side has happened far more often to me in life. Without fail if you behave badly to enough people, eventually you’ll annoy someone who will later be in a position to hurt you (or not help you). I’ll meet someone, they’ll under-estimate me, then they’ll realize there would have been something productive from interacting with me. I’ve met real estate agents who brush me off, and later realize I actually have money then try to suck up to me. In school I’d meet people who’d be rude to me socially, then later want to borrow assignments or get help with a project. At one interview the owner of the company was very rude to me from the start. As his technical guy rapidly warmed up to me (we shared some laughs discussing why vi is the one true editor and reminiscing about the BBS days) the owner clued in that I’d be someone it would actually be worth hiring and started trying to charm me. I’d already realized I wouldn’t want to spend 8 hours a day with the guy – I’d seen his true colours when he didn’t think I was worth impressing.

Yes, Mr. Cheap holds a grudge and karma can be a bitch :-).

Early in life I would get caught doing bad things often enough that I became convinced it was better just not to do them. I’m probably the law abiding person I am today, in part, because my parents convinced me bad things would happen to me soon after I did bad things to other people.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 squawkfox

Very thoughtful article Mr. Cheap. Facing the world with the most positive and honest of intentions is a direction I wish more would take. I too have had interviews where the most unlikely person has championed my cause due to honest conversation. Personally, I tend more to Star Trek references than Babylon 5 in interview situations. Since I’m also a “shy computer nerd” I too find comfort in conversing about scifi in technical interviews. Albeit, most interviewers are stunnified to find a seemingly normal “chick” to have an honest knowledge base of pop-geek culture. Ohh, and Emacs is the only true editor. ;)

2 Mr. Cheap

Squakfox you fool! :-) Actually I think women who use Emacs are terribly cute. Misguided, but cute! ;-) Can you do any programming in Lisp?

Kirk or Picard?

3 squawkfox

Mon Dieu! Jean-Luc Picard is my captain! No squawks there. Perhaps I am misguided with editor choice, my “other half” is very much a VI kind of guy. He’s tried to show me the error of my ways but concedes my cuteness in persuasion prevails in the battle. Lisp must die. I had to learn it in university. These days I’m finding joy in building web stuff.

4 Four Pillars

Can you guys get a room? :)

5 squawkfox

Four Pillars: Alas, I suspect there are very few rooms available for personal finance bloggers who watch Babylon 5 and discuss the merits of Vi. It’s a very small niche I fear. ;)

6 WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com

Can’t be as good as Battlestar Galactica! :)

p.s. I saw a shirt on thinkgeek or something that said:

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
(if less than 1 ohm)

GOLD!

7 Four Pillars

SF – very true.

WDAMMG – that’s a good one!

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