Good luck in reading our cover article – Editor’s Note

Good or bad luck can transform peoples’ lives. So it’s understandable that much of human culture is devoted to encouraging the former and discouraging the latter. To the degree that such efforts are based on magical rituals and bizarre behaviors, the lack of success poses no surprises. But, in fact, people can and do make their own luck. And some of this can be studied and demonstrated scientifically.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman’s article “The Luck Factor” in this issue, based on his new book of the same title, describes his 10-year Luck Project, a scientific investigation into the concept of luck. The goal was to find why some people “seem to live charmed lives full of lucky breaks and chance encounters, while other experience one disaster after another.” His research revealed four basic principles by which people tend to generate their own good fortune. (One: “Lucky” people are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities.) He carried out experiments to test the differences between such people and their less lucky brethren. Ever constructive, he even devised a “luck school,” a series of experiments examining whether people’s luck can be enhanced by getting them to think and behave in a more positive way. The answer is yes.

Wiseman heads the Perrott-Warrick Research Unit in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, north of London, where he has established an international reputation for his research into deception and parapsychology and for his efforts on behalf of the public understanding of science. A CSICOP Fellow, SKEPTICAL INQUIRER consulting editor, and former magician, he’s an innovative, energetic researcher with a popular touch. A survey by The Times Higher Education Supplement found that he was the psychologist most frequently quoted by the British media. The New Yorker, writing about his widely publicized project last year to identify the world’s funniest joke, called him “Britain’s most recognizable psychologist.” This is his sixth SI article.

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We’ve expanded our reviews section in this issue to accommodate discussions of some important new books, plus a museum exhibit.

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We note with sadness the death of Marcello Truzzi (see page 9). Marcello was the first editor of this journal. He edited the first two bi-annual issues, when it was called The Zetetic; I succeeded him in August 1977. We renamed it the SKEPTICAL INQUIRER but kept “The Zetetic” as a subtitle for several more issues. Marcello went on to publish his own informal journal, The Zetetic Scholar, at irregular intervals for some years thereafter. Always provocative, and with a sociologist’s perspective, Marcello was as likely to find fault with skeptics as with paranormalists, but his goal always was to facilitate constructive debate between the two camps.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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