Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Fortune Telling

A “good fortune teller” is not an “accurate” fortune teller. A “good fortune teller” is a fortune teller who “says good things”. A fortune teller who tells fortunes that are too real, despite warning people of the dangers to come in the future, tends to be ignored and hated on just like Cassandra from ancient Greek mythology. Human beings say they fear uncertainty in the future and want some certainty, but they do not want to hear about an unhappy future. This is a normal response. Who would want to hear that they will soon be diagnosed with a terminal illness, or that they will break up with their lover? However, people are fascinating in that they still try to know the future. We go to fortune tellers and read horoscopes to try figure out what will happen to us. But if they receive bad news such as “you will fail your next exam”, instead of studying even more they curse at the fortune teller for giving them a bad prediction. Thus, human beings live among curiosity about their life and fear of the unknown future, while celebrating good fortunes and actively denying bad ones.

The reason why we like to have our fortunes read is similar to why we watch previews of television shows: we are curious about what will happen. But if you ponder this deeply, you soon come to a great epiphany. The further you look out into the future, the clearer this becomes. Everyone eventually dies. A person’s life span is typically not much longer than a hundred years, with everyone meeting the same fate some day.

A fortune teller predicts the ups and downs of a person’s life. If you think about it, life is composed of a series of peaks and troughs that eventually result in death. No matter what misfortune comes your way, it will pass just as seasons come and go. A person who passed an exam is happy and leads a good life, but even if the person fails, they somehow make it through. Unless you give up, a person will continue to live on. C’est la vie. Life is as simple as that.

If the best fortune teller in the history of mankind told your fortune, they would say the following: “nothing matters, live the way you want”. Whether your fortune for the week is good or bad, you will eventually die. There is no point scaring yourself with fortunes, live every day as if it was your last. An uncertain future may be scary, but it also represents infinite possibilities. Just like Schrödinger’s cat, our tomorrows are both alive and dead at the same time. Until tomorrow comes and the box is open, we can never know what the future holds.

So as long as it does not harm you or anyone else, do whatever the hell you want.

Posted in Life & Happiness

The Old Man And The Horse

There once lived an old man in northern China who was a great fortune teller. One day, his horse ran away to the land of the savages. The villagers all gave the old man their condolences, but the old man said without a hint of sorrow:

“Who knows? This may bring good fortune.”

A few months later, the horse came back with the fastest horse of the savages. When the villagers praised the old man, he said without a shred of joy:

“Who knows? This may bring bad fortune.”

Then one day, the old man’s son who loved horse riding fell off the savage’s horse and broke his leg. When the villagers tried to cheer him up, the old man replied in a calm manner:

“Who knows? This may bring good fortune.”

A year later, when the savages attacked the village, all of the young men had to fight them and ultimately died during battle. But the old man’s son survived as he was lame.

Nothing in life is certain. Good and bad, luck and misfortune come in random order in life and cannot be predicted. Thus, it is wiser to enjoy every day as it is, throw away all of your preconceptions of the future and dream and hope for the best.

Posted in Science & Nature


Three gunslingers called Good, Bad and Ugly duel to the death. They each stand an equal distance from each other and shoot at the same time. Good’s accuracy is 30%, Ugly’s accuracy is 70% and Bad’s accuracy is 100%. Who has the highest chance of survival?

Common sense dictates that Bad, with the highest accuracy, will have the highest survival rate. However, when the duel begins, the following scenario will occur.

Good’s most rational decision is to shoot Bad rather than Ugly. Reason being, shooting the person with the higher accuracy improves your survival rate in the next round. Ugly also chooses to shoot Bad instead of Good as it is the best choice. Lastly, Bad shoots Ugly instead of Good. This scenario can be explained by the following diagram:

Thus, the probability of Bad being alive after the first round is (1-0.3)(1-0.7)=0.21, or 21%. This is because Ugly is killed by Bad on the first shot. On the second round, the probability of Good dying is the same as Bad’s survival rate of the first round, which is 21%. Therefore, Good’s survival rate is 79%. On the other hand, Bad’s survival rate becomes 0.21(1-0.3)=0.147, or 14.7%

Ultimately, the survival rate of each shooter is: Ugly 0%, Bad 14.7%, Good 21%, making Good the most likely winner. This illustrates the fundamental principles of game theory – an extremely useful theory that helps predict the many choices we make in life.

Posted in History & Literature


The history of cats is longer than people think. It is known that they have had an intimate relationship with humans for the past 9500 years. The hypothesis is that they were probably domesticated in Egypt and surrounding Middle Eastern countries such as Persia. The reason for this is most likely to eradicate vermin, as they kept stealing the stores of grains that had been produced using developed farming technology.

Cats, with their natural hunting instincts, excelled at this task and people came to love the animals more and more. They became important to the degree that in ancient Egypt, cats were considered sacred animals and worshipped, even being mummified in some cases.

But entering the Middle Ages, the image of cats deteriorated. Europeans considered cats as signs of bad luck and the pet of witches, and proceeded to massacre all cats. As the population shrank, rats thrived with the loss of their predator and began to multiply at a rapid rate. These rats, often carrying fleas, were key players in spreading the deadly Black Plague. In other words, thanks to the massacre of cats, a third of Europe died from the Pest.

Cats are beloved animals in the modern age (dog lovers may disagree), but superstitions linking cats to bad luck still exist. In the West, black cats are believed to be bad luck and have nine lives (most likely originating from a cat’s ability to break its fall).
But their image has much recovered and as it can be seen from characters such as Hello Kitty, they are becoming a symbol of cuteness. However, considering their close relatives such as lions and tigers represent bravery and the king of beasts, a cat’s dignity has surely fallen.