Magic 8 Ball

         Going off of my drug spiel from my last blog, I decided to look into the Oracle at Delphi.  The oracle was a priestess whose mumbled prophesies were interpreted by the high priest. One high priest, Plutarch, noticed that the oracle’s stupor seemed to be an effect of inhaling natural vapors.  These vapors could have put the oracle into the trance, but the suspected gas, ethylene, is unlikely to have been found in high enough concentrations to be the source. Despite uncertainty surrounding the cause, the prophesies of these oracles were highly valued. 

         Are the people we get advice from today any more reliable?

         Let’s start with the absurd. Did you know that if you text your name and your lover’s name to 58585 with the message ‘flirt’, a relationship guru can let you know if your love will last? Surely a text message generator is all knowing.  Or maybe you take your troubles to a psychic.  I hate to break it to you, but I’m 99.9% positive fortunetellers are not connected with the spiritual world. They pay attention to clothes, body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions that encourage further probing on certain topics. That, and they describe situations that are common for most people. Relationship issues, tension in the family, and school and job stress are relatable for most of the population, and referencing any of these things may seem like the teller understands you, but really they just know that each person’s struggles are somewhat similar. Or perhaps you visit a therapist. You talk to the shrink about your issues instead of letting them guess your struggles.  But do you ever get answers? That is the goal in all of this, I think. Sometimes it’s easier to let someone else make decisions for you. Letting someone else decide your choices seems to me that it keeps you from accepting the fault. The past two years I’ve hoped someone would tell me what to do with my life so that I won’t wake up one day when I’m 35, hate my life, and have only myself to blame.  But I feel like an autonomous life should be more valued.

         At the end of the day, the high priest was still the one making up his own truths through the oracle’s gibberish. If the 58585 number texts you that your relationship won’t make it, the choice is still yours to break up with him or her, and from the beginning you knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work. The psychic is there to tell you your future, but it’s not as if he or she has chosen that future for you and set it in stone. The psychiatrist is a little different because he or she asks you the questions and lets you come up with the answers. I guess it seems to me like we ask other people for the solution when actually we only want validation for the choices we’ve already made up in our minds. That, or we’re really just too scared of failure. 


I found the one article by going visiting > library sources > databases > modern and classical languages > jstor > searched “oracle at delphi” AND “gas”. My article was on the first page I believe.


4 thoughts on “Magic 8 Ball

  1. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    This was a good read, Jennaaaay. I completely agree that having other people decide your life for you is much easier, and autonomy is hard. Free will has got to be both the greatest gift and greatest curse of humanity. I would have never thought to connect the ancient oracles to our modern-day text answering services. It just goes to show that technology changes, but human nature stays the same.

    -Arbiter Bibendi

  2. Emma

    Good job, Jennie. I think you made a good point, I would go even further to say that not only to we like to be told what to do in difficult situations, but we especially like advice from strangers. More often than not we will ignore our parents, good friends, and people who know us well because they don’t always tell us what we want to hear. Instead, we spill our problems to strangers at the bar or scope self-help books for advice that we’re looking for. I think you found yet another hint that very very little has changed since then!


  3. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    this is great. i see people on facebook share their daily horoscope all the time, and i think it’s hilarious. of course if they say “gemini are super smart, and good-lucking, and completely superior to all other humans” your ego is inclined to believe it. youll notice that even though most of the population is not smart, and not good looking, no horoscope would ever say something bad or negative. i almost admire these people for trolling the human race like they do, because it certainly takes some talent to know exactly what people want to see themselves as and to make it as generic as possible. on the other hand, i absolutely hate them and are constantly annoyed by what they do. oh well. -Nathanus

  4. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    1) Horoscopes are bullshit. 2) Life advice is hard to come by, especially in a crisis. I can see why people get sucked into things such as horoscopes since they’re looking for some kind of guidance or deeper meaning. They’re a crutch much like substance abuse. I know a lady who back home buys wholeheartedly into all of that stuff. She can’t confront how her own behavior affects people. It’s really sort of sad. She has deep seeded problems that horoscopes, psychics, and snake oil are going to enable. A lot of times, I’ve wished for a Gandalf the Grey type figure to come and explain everything I need to do. Go to Mordor young Waalkes, destroy the ring. Get pop pop a treat. Sadly, all I can do is sort of the opposite, irrationally blame others for my own issues. Thanks Obama, you’ve really f’d me this time.
    King Dr. Senator Vice-President Rex Olim et Futurus Ceo Dr. Rev T-Thomas Wizzlevex Wala SkyWaalkes IIII jr.


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