Sunday, 30 October 2016
"'...Drunkard's Walk computations involve comparatively sophisticated mathematics.'" (David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 170)
I first encountered the phrase "Drunkard's Walk" as the title of an sf novel by Frederick Pohl. There is a more recent popular science book called The Drunkard's Walk, which is of interest for at least two reasons. First, it refers to interpretation of stochastic processes. In James Blish's Cities In Flight future history, a future philosophical system is called Stochasticism. Secondly, it refers to misinterpretation of random events.
I could interpret many random events in my life as providential because they had beneficial outcomes. However, it is clearly wrong to generalize from one life to life in general. In Poul Anderson's "The Trouble Twisters," the Inkranankans see their luck as generally bad but this is because of environmental factors specific to their planet. Their condition will be changed for the better by contact with the Polesotechnic League.