Friday, October 14, 2011

The Luckiest City in America

One of the most basic premises regarding magick is that it operates in the material world through the manipulation of probabilities. In other words, most successful magical operations essentially involve increasing the caster's luck in some particular situation. Various magical traditions have proposed ideas such as "power spots" and "ley lines," places where this sort of manipulation can more easily be accomplished. English folklore has long maintained that the magical lines of force that run through Great Britain can be traced by drawing lines between various megalithic sites, but here in the United States that's much harder to do. Native Americans may have used a similar system at one time, but with so much of their culture wiped out by European colonization it's hard to determine what that system might have been.

The solution, it seems to me, is that we should make use of our modern understanding of mathematics and statistics to create our own maps outlining places where lucky events happen on a more regular basis. If done properly, this should correspond to areas in which magical operations work better if we assume a normal distribution of high magical aptitude throughout the American population. While I have yet to see a full map of their data, as it turns out Men's Health magazine did just that. The results? San Diego is apparently the luckiest city in America. Baltimore, Phoenix, Wilmington, and Richmond also were high on the list, which might be one reason Rufus Opus has so many more blog followers than I do.

"Luck is basically our modern world's magic," said David Zinczenko, editor in chief of the magazine. "People need to believe in luck because it allows them to give a name to the randomness of life, and when you name something, you have more power over it."

To determine the most charmed towns the magazine analyzed data about cities with the most lottery and sweepstake winners, the most hole-in-ones on the golf course, the fewest lighting strikes, the least deaths from falling objects, and the lowest debt due to playing the lottery and race betting.

"San Diego's multiple jackpot winners, its low lightning strike count, and its low number of lightning-related injuries and deaths helped push it to the top," Zinczenko said.

Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the country, and another betting hub, Reno, Nevada, also landed in the top 10.

"It is in the top 10," Zinczenko said about Las Vegas. "And you have to remember that there would be no Vegas if all of the gamblers were lucky all of the time."

At the opposite end of the spectrum Lady Luck was shinning the least on Charleston in West Virginia. It was the town with the highest rate of deaths from falling objects, with four times as many as San Diego, and had no lottery or sweepstake winners.

So are these differences the result of magical structures that underlie the North American continent? I would have to do a more detailed analysis to see if the distribution is essentially random or if some other geographical pattern appears to be at work. You never know, it could always work out that San Diego's good fortune has nothing to do with ley lines and everything to do with the incredible supernatural power of a guy in a chicken suit.

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PhoenixAngel said...

Hi Frater Ananael Qaa!! Hey, if you need any help with generating the map of lucky places, feel free to hire me as your assistant. I will work for free! Gives me a chance to brush up on my Gaussian probability :) Odds are if we team up we would have a 76.3% chance of finding 10 other places. We can go in halfsies on a lotto ticket. :) I got dibs on doing the 1st rite tho, probably RO's Gate of Jupiter. Maybe thats also why he has so many followers? I need to move to somewhere luckier. Maybe we can massage the data so Bora Bora comes up on the list. LOL!

Ananael Qaa said...

Hey, I'm totally up for that. We could start with the magazine information and look for clusters, though my initial thought is that we would need to make sure that the data samples are being compared properly.

For example - lightning strikes in San Diego are going to be low because it's the desert and rarely storms. More jackpot winners are going to show up in Reno and Las Vegas because more people gamble. And so on.

So we would need to make sure those variables were being broken out per storm and per capita. The falling object data might vary a lot by weather as well - I'm not sure if you're going to get higher instances where people are indoor more or outdoor more, as I can imagine rationales for both.

Anyway, it sounds like a fun project, and your help on it would be welcome.

Chas Clifton said...

Colorado and New Mexico have lots of lighting -- there is a reason why Nikola Tesla put his lab in Colorado Springs -- but why should that be "unlucky" for a community as a whole?

Ananael Qaa said...

@Chas: Considering the source I'm sure there are plenty of places where the data could probably be cleaned up with better scrutiny.

As you note, the number of lightning strikes on its own is not really that significant, because areas with a lot of lightning are always going to have more of them. You need to come up with a measurement like the percentage of damaging to overall strikes if you want to even out the odds and get an accurate comparison.

You wind up having to do the same thing with jackpot winnings - extract a percentage of wins versus bets to control for areas like Las Vegas and Reno that have a lot of gambling going on.