Your phone will ring!

I am fascinated by chain-letter type spam because it shows just how gullable people can be. In my junk mail folder this morning, was a message with a subject “FW: FW: This is SOOOOOOO Creepy” and the gist of the message was that if you read the entire message and made a wish, your wish would come true within minutes.

Now, it is my experience that wishes come true only through hard work or random chance. So natural, I was fascinated by how reading an email message and making a wish would make it come true. So I read the message.

First of all, there is a science to this, and this science is, apparently, predictable. There are even equations involved. For instance, to find out how long it will take for your wish to come true, simply take your age and convert it to minutes and you’ve got your answer. I am 34 years old and therefore my wish, should have come true within 34 minutes. The younger you are, therefore, the quicker your wish will come true. This means that people with the least amount of wisdom and experience will get their wishes granted faster than those people with (presumably) the most amount of wisdom an experience. Even in chain mail wishes, there is no justice in the universe!

Then there is the documentary evidence that this work. For instance:

I’m 13 years old, and I wished that my dad would come home from the army, because he’d been having problems with his heart and right leg. It was at 2:53 pm when I made my wish. At 3:07 PM (14 minutes later), the doorbell rang, and ther was my Dad, luggage and all!!

Presumably, in this case, it was okay that it took 14 minutes, instead of the predicted 13 minutes because, you know how clocks are always off and who knows what time it really was. What I don’t understand is that this youngster wished for his (or her) Dad, and yet what they got was Dad and his luggage. That’s going the extra mile, wish-wise, if you ask me.

Maybe this did happen. Maybe the phone did ring as soon as someone made their wish. But as a skeptic, I can’t believe it had anything to do with the making of the wish itself. The fact is, there are two explanations that make much more sense. The first is the fact that we internalize information subsconsciouly all the time. We might, for instance, hear our mother talking on the phone to our father and while we don’t hear the entire conversation, we can piece together the fact that dad is coming home soon. Then we start to wish Dad was coming home, and a few minutes later, there he is. It was not the wish but our subconscious knowledge that he was already on his way that did the trick.

The second explanation is probably even more common. Plain and simple coincidence. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, but there is no necessary connection between making a wish and having that wish come true–and when it does happens, very often it’s a coincidence. For some reason, however, people feel the need to place some kind of otherworldly value on coincidence when none belongs there. Flip a coin long enough, and you are bound to get twenty heads in a row. Nothing magic about it, it’s the law of averages. So you make enough wishes (or buy enough lottery tickets) and you are bound to win something. And if that winning is associated with our desire to win, then one must have caused the other. I think this is nothing more than an illustration of just how egocentric we are.

In any event, the instructions were clear. I needed to make my wish. I closed my eyes, made my wish, and scrolled to the end of the message. Apparently, however, wishes don’t work for “non-believers”. I wished that I would stop getting all forms of nonsense spam. I didn’t have to wait 34 minutes to find out if my wish had come true. Two minutes later, another piece of junk found it’s way into my junk folder.

But maybe that’s my fault. After all, I didn’t follow the instructions completely. I was supposed to forward the junk to 10 or more people within 5 minutes of making my wish, and this I simply didn’t do. The message indicates that if I don’t do this, I will have bad luck for years. Apparently, it’s right on target there, as I am still getting annoying spam.

Incidentally, why is it that the wishers can’t be happy with getting what they want? Why do these silly messages always have to punish those who don’t forward them with years of bad luck? Isn’t it bad enough that you didn’t get what you wished for in the first place? Whatever happened to the Golden Rule? Or for that matter, common decency?

Just wishful thinking, I guess.