Question for the Group Mind

by wjw on August 17, 2011


So here I am in this huge resort/casino thing, and to get anywhere you have to wander by hundreds of gaming tables.  I’ve been watching the gamblers, and none of them seem to be having a good time.   They’re all grimly working away at whatever it is they’re doing.

Why is that?  Any idea?

Geoff August 17, 2011 at 10:04 pm

You didn’t walk by a craps table?

A hot craps table is the only place that really brings group outpourings of joy.

I have a more esoteric idea about gamblers believing that there is a finite quantity of luck in any casino, thus they are locked in a zero-sum struggle with all of the other players.

TC/The Writer Underground August 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm

A casino is a pretty dismal environment (I’d love to see a scientific study done about the long-term affects of all that noise and light on cognitive function and mood), but in all fairness, I don’t look all that thrilled when I’m reading a good book either.

I mean I’m devilishly handsome and adorable and all, but I don’t look happy (unless I’m reading a WJW story of course, when my face lights up like a small child’s on Christmas morning).

Urban August 18, 2011 at 4:15 am

I’ve made the same observation regarding photos from magazine photos from model railroad clubs. I know they’re having fun, but often they sure don’t look like it’s a fun hobby but rather a job. It’s a completely different thing when operating a layout at a public show, because then it’s about interacting with people rather than being partly concerned with not making a mistake in front of the other club members.
When I’m flight simming on my own I probably look quite relaxed, but when I can mess it up for others by being stupid, perhaps not. But I’m having as much fun in either case.

Sean Craven August 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm

The experience of stress becomes intensely pleasurable when you feel a sense of control or hope or possibility. It’s in the balance of hormones like adrenaline and so on released by the body. Fight or flight preparation feels good, bracing for a beating feels bad.

You are quite literally seeing an addiction to endogenous psychotropics. It’s really no different than cocaine or fast food.

Daniel Abraham August 20, 2011 at 6:15 am

They’re parasitized.

wjw August 22, 2011 at 12:31 am

I’d expect MLN Hanover to say that, not someone like Daniel.

DensityDuck August 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm

From what I’ve read, Skinner found that a random large reward was better at habituation than a steady stream of small ones. People are more likely to push the bar if there’s a 1-in-a-thousand chance of an orgasm than if you give them a Snickers bar every time.

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