I cannot think of any other form of magical thinking better demonstrated than playing slot machines. I assume that most of us know that the casinos are there to make money for themselves, and are not concerned at the least by the fact that Joe just lost his job, and Mary’s son had a drug problem, for which she needs money, if she were to send him to a rehab.
No, they really don’t care!
Regardless, our emotional equilibrium changes by the second, as we see the symbols, as we hear the sounds, and as we look at the person sitting next to us smiling towards a machine.
Take me for example. Most people who know me would say that I am quite realistic, and probably too cynical for my own good. And yet, as I was sitting next to a woman praying by a slot machine, and caressing the machine in some sort of ritualistic way (top to bottom, three taps and then a kiss), I started by feeling contempt towards her, feeling sorry for her (never mind that I am playing the same stupid, mindless, lose-lose proposition), and then seeing that she is beginning to win, curiosity took over. After a while, as she was winning, I was beginning to compose interesting theories in my brain about energy and human touch, vibrations and their powers, and wondering whether I am just too cynical for my own good, and maybe I should start talking to the machine, if I want to have a fulfilling relationship with it.
The Vegas gods had a different plan for me and her, and after a short while they overcame her “magic powers”, and my imaginary plans, and she started losing. Immediately, I returned to my contempt and pity, and said to myself that it’s OK to lose money just to have fun, even though, I am not sure that I had fun.
What I did have is a roller coaster of emotions, ranging between “maybe I’ll hit the Jackpot”, “this is stupid and you know it, so why are you doing it?”, “this woman next to me is completely crazy”, to “maybe I should not dismiss magic so readily, maybe I should pay more attention to extra sensory phenomenons” and so on and so on.
We both lost.