Behavioral economist on why Americans freak out when you attribute their success to luck

[Read the post]


“Good weather is a choice.”



I earned my inheritance!


I’m pretty well aware of the role of luck in my own good fortune. Perhaps that’s because my circle of friends is mostly people who work as hard as me, yet don’t seem to be getting as far financially. As the article says, very good musicians have a 99% chance of having to work a day job. I was raised in a family that was all about engineering, which offers a much higher chance of making a decent living.

The extra-lucky part for me was getting hooked up with a way to earn a living while not making machines to kill people. Thank, Woz!


Hey, I worked at having smart parents who valued education. Luck had nothing to do with it!!!


It used to be called noblesse oblige “the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged.” (definition provided on Googling).
Being born lucky in other words.

When I went to parochial school we were taught we owed it to others to help out when we could even though we were mostly kids of blue collar workers and immigrants. Even at our less than privileged level of status we still had many privileges including being born in a first world country and having parents or other family that felt getting a good education was worth the money and time they put in to enable them to send their children to a good school.

If a blue collar kid should give back why shouldn’t a Trump or a Romney?


That Rich Kid of Instagram has got some shitty taste in fragrances. D&G The One for Men? Paco Rabanne One Million? Really? Even the Tom Ford and Creed fragrances are ludicrously overpriced for what they are, so I guess he’s in their target market.

He gets a pass on the Hermes padlock bottle. But only that one.


Good is a judgement. Judgement is the choice.


Anything that helps dismantle the just world fallacy that much of the country seems to live in is good.


I wonder how this repulsion at attributing success to luck compares to other countries. How much of it is innate, and how much is wrapped-up in the overarching American myth that hard work brings success?

That myth — and the closely-related one of the self-made person who has never benefitted from, and would never need, government help — is a huge part of what drives political discourse in America today.

(It also clearly traces its roots back to modern America’s foundations, both through the pilgrims and through other immigrants who sought to make a better life for themselves. So it can be explained why it’s such an American myth, but how much work will be required to dial it back?)


Well, what can I say, some of us prefer “smiled upon by the gods.”


the Outliers book says the same thing, I think.

Those that have achieved a comfortable life or beyond break into two groups - those that feel very fortunate for what they have and those that think the world should genuflect in their presence. The latter seem to wildly populate corporate middle management and above.


Trump has bred? It gets worse.

1 Like

Selectively bred. Like a pug. But instead of breathing problems and eye infections, Drumpf is prone to being an evil narcissistic jackass.


100% inheritance tax, living wage, rent control, fair credit, open access Medicare, free public tuition, campaign finance reform, IP reform, and no federally protected limited liability.

And municipal maker/diy financing, esp. for clean local energy and local farm-to-fork operations.


I’ll bet you’ll say it was luck that I won the lottery, but it was actually hard work and studying that helped me build a device that could sent me back in time 24 hours so I could win the lottery using my foreknowledge of the winning numbers. Then I used that money to build the very device that sent me back in time 24 hours.

Sorry. . . what were we talking about again? Time travel tends to mess up my train of thought.



1 Like