If you believe in luck then you’ll love this story about the Orknes family from Norway who’ve put their third giant lottery win down to falling pregnant.

Do you get luckier with two of these suckers?

Each time 28 year old Hege Jeanette announces she’s expecting, her brothers and father have bought a winning lottery ticket. Current prize winnings: 1.2 million kroner, the equivalent of $2 million.

“It’s inexplicable,” said Hege’s 19 year old brother Tord Oksnes, the most recent lottery winner. Who also said he’s encouraging Hege to have at least ten children to keep the money rolling in.

You’ve got to wonder what Hege thinks of that plan, particularly when, as Sydney University professor of mathematics Clio Cresswell told The Punch today, there is no such thing as “luck”.

“Humans find patterns where there are none. We look for patterns around us to explain things that are essentially completely random. For example, if someone told you that 99 per cent of all convicted felons ate bread, then would you believe that all people who eat bread commit crime?” she said.

The other problem with trying to explain random events with the notion of “luck” is the skewed emphasis we place on what happens around us.

As Dr Creswell explained when a woman is pregnant, all she tends to see are other pregnant woman. Same with someone who has a broken leg; they start noticing everyone around them with a broken leg.

“What we should be asking is what wasn’t happening at the time. For example, how many times did the Orknes family buy a lottery ticket when Hege was not pregnant? Or what else were they doing at the time of each purchase,” she said.

Objectively this makes complete sense - but there’s something a bit sad about completely casting off the notion of superstition altogether. Then again, I have hung upside down on a precarious ledge to kiss the Blarney Stone in the name of good fortune.

But now over to you. Spill the beans Punchers, what’s your lucky charm?

Follow me on Twitter: @lucyjk

Comments close on this post at 8pm AEST

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    • SAm says:

      12:25pm | 26/09/12

      there is no such thing as luck, but that family sure have statistics on their side!

    • subotic's luck has run out says:

      12:49pm | 26/09/12

      So SAm, what do you call so-called “good luck” when you have it?

      A fortuitous set of preferred circumstances? Sweet baby Elvis smiling down upon me? The will of Allah? Karma?

      Good grief….

    • SAm says:

      01:09pm | 26/09/12

      hehe well yes ‘luck’ is the word us humans have given to something that happens statistically more than usual. I dont think theres anything to it, purely chance

    • Al says:

      01:18pm | 26/09/12

      subotic - how about ‘chance’? Can refer to the variations that occur and what people describe as ‘good luck’ or ‘bad luck’ and does not try to imbue any particular quality to it.

      Can’t realy use the term probability though.

    • John L says:

      12:32pm | 26/09/12

      You’ve got to wonder what Hege thinks of that plan, particularly when, as Sydney University professor of mathematics Clio Cresswell told The Punch today, there is no such thing as “luck”.

      Obi-wan said that too. Is she a Jedi? Does she have a spiny, floaty ball thing that I can practice my light sabre-ing? Does she have a light saber?


    • Tubesteak says:

      12:44pm | 26/09/12

      Nice coincidence and that’s about all.

      “but there’s something a bit sad about completely casting off the notion of superstition altogether”

      I don’t think so. Casting off superstition is what any sane and rational person does.

    • marley says:

      06:44pm | 26/09/12

      Nah, even the sane and rational need to have a bit of fantasy in their lives.  Doesn’t mean they believe it, but they (we) can dream.

    • sunny says:

      12:46pm | 26/09/12

      Quick, someone get her up the duff - cousin Lars just called, his gambling debts to the mob are overdue and they’re sending someone around to ‘collect’!

    • TimB says:

      01:16pm | 26/09/12

      In response to the caption “Do you get luckier with two of these suckers?”, the answer I think would be ‘no’.

      In the family bookshelf, pressed between the pages of the giant reference dictionary, are two four-leaf clovers I found when I was a wee lad.

      I can’t say I’ve been especially lucky. Usual run of the mill mix of good and bad fortune.

      Then again, maybe I was actually destined to have the universe take a giant dump on my head and the protection of the twin clovers have averted that unlucky fate for me. Who knows wink .

    • Elphaba says:

      02:05pm | 26/09/12

      “Then again, I have hung upside down on a precarious ledge to kiss the Blarney Stone in the name of good fortune.”

      So would I, and I don’t believe in anything.  That’s just more about soaking up the atmosphere of the place you are at.

      I visit temples when I go OS, and I’m not religious.  It’s about seeing the place from all angles…

      For me, no lucky charms, no looking for patterns.  You master your own destiny, and take the hiccups along the way as just that.

    • Alfie says:

      02:51pm | 26/09/12

      I’m on to it - stick your rabbits foot and four-leaf clovers, I just need to find a Norwegian chick to knock up.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      03:03pm | 26/09/12

      just remember to croon ‘take on meeee…. take me oooooonnnn!’

    • Sam says:

      02:51pm | 26/09/12

      Everyone has had times where everything seems to go their way for a while and nothing goes their way at other times. It isn’t always perception, there are times when the universe is more favorable than others.

      To even exist you have to be very lucky, imagine the thousands of generations where your forefathers & foremothers copulated at exactly the right time. The statistical probabilities of you existing are miniscule.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      03:10pm | 26/09/12

      “It isn’t always perception, there are times when the universe is more favorable than others.”

      Evidence?  Perhaps you somehow got hold of some albino body parts on those lucky days?  Belief in the irrational is NOT harmless, no matter how small the belief.  It fosters a lack of critical thinking that leads to things like this:


      “Branded a ‘ghost’ on account of her striking white skin, Mariam Emmanuel had been chased through her African village, in a remote corner of Tanzania, by a bloodthirsty mob.

      Exhausted and terrified, the five-year-old slumped in the dust at the end of an alley. She whimpered and cowered while the adults surrounded her and sharpened their knives and machetes.

      Then they set to work, butchering her and dividing up her remains between themselves.”

    • Sam says:

      03:55pm | 26/09/12

      “Belief in the irrational is NOT harmless”

      Whatever, you believe what you want, I have lucky runs.

      Did you want to post about bunny-rabbits without feet or shoeless horses next?

    • St. Michael says:

      04:03pm | 26/09/12

      ““Thermodynamic miracles… events with odds against so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing.  And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter… Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold… that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle.

      But…if me, my birth, if that’s a thermodynamic miracle… I mean, you could say that about anybody in the world!.

      Yes. Anybody in the world. ..But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget… I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from the another’s vantage point. As if new, it may still take our breath away. Come…dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes… and let’s go home.”

      —Dr. Manhattan and the Silk Spectre, Watchmen, Alan Moore.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      04:36pm | 26/09/12

      Tim, there is a bit of a gulf between black africans slaughtering albinos for money, and a child searching for a four-leaf clover. Your story, horrific as it is, has nothing to do with the sort of issues discussed in this post. But well done for not bringing medieval Christian persecution into the equation, must have been a struggle for you.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      04:48pm | 26/09/12

      “Did you want to post about bunny-rabbits without feet or shoeless horses next?”

      Do you have links indicating incidents of people deliberately butchering rabbits in order to abscond with their feet? 

      “I have lucky runs.”

      You have subjectively connected events to which you ascribe a non-existent connection in order to write an internal narrative.

      “so crowded with these miracles”

      It is immeasurably more crowded with the unrealised possibilities.  I’ve little doubt you’re more than familiar with the anthropic principle, Scotch smile

    • Scotchfinger says:

      04:54pm | 26/09/12

      @St Michael, sounds like Dr Manhattan is ignorant of basic evolutionary and genetic science, also he is conflating his physics with his metaphysics. What does he have a doctorate in? American Literature?

    • St. Michael says:

      07:18pm | 26/09/12

      Scotchfinger, when you’re sufficiently cultured to have read “Watchmen”, come back and talk to me.

    • Billsy says:

      04:31pm | 26/09/12

      OK, I’ll put this to the test. I will win tomorrow night’s Powerball. Will it be luck , preordained, or just coincidence?

    • Dman says:

      04:32pm | 26/09/12

      “Whatever, you believe what you want, I have lucky runs.”

      No, you don’t. You have periods where things go your way, and periods where things don’t. That’s just a statistical inevitability. Luck has nothing to do with it.

    • Dman says:

      05:00pm | 26/09/12

      ^ Was a response to Sam’s comment above.

    • Sam says:

      05:06pm | 26/09/12

      ” You have periods where things go your way, and periods where things don’t.”

      People call that luck.

    • Dman says:

      05:54pm | 26/09/12

      “People call that luck”.

      Ignorant people call that luck. I call it normal life. Calling it luck implies that there is some form of outside force influencing the outcomes of events. Rational people recognise that there will always be times when good things happen to you, and times when bad things happen to you. Luck has nothing to do with it.

    • Joe says:

      06:39pm | 26/09/12

      Mathematics doesn’t explain WHY it happens just that it CAN happen. But we already knew that, so I don’t know why we need to consult a Mathematician. Mathematics actually tells us that it is a very, very unlikely but possible event.  So what?  Appealing to universities to explain the bleedin’ obvious is getting out of hand.


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