Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Pseudo Lama

I just received a powerpoint presentation which reads:

The Dalai Lama said read it to see if it works for you. PERSONALITY TEST Very interesting. Just 4 questions and the answers will surprise you.... Do not cheat by looking up the answers. The mind is like a parachute it works best when it is opened.

You then have to pick various items - animals, descriptions, colours etc. and link some to people, and they are displayed later with the "interpretation". To save time, email clutter, and as a general spoiler, here are the "results":

Cow: signifies CAREER
Tiger Signifies PRIDE
Sheep Signifies LOVE
Horse Signifies FAMILY
Pig Signifies MONEY
Your description of dog implies YOUR OWN PERSONALITY.
Your description of cat implies the personality of your partner.
Your description of rat implies the personality of your enemies.
Your description of coffee is how you interpret SEX.
Your description of the Sea implies your own life.
Yellow: Someone you will never forget.
Orange: Someone you consider your true friend.
Red: Someone that you really love.
White: Your twin soul.
Green: Someone that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Snopes comments that this is but one among many that the poor Dalai Lama has been associated with:

Origins: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, has had a number of cyberspatial tin cans tied to his tail over the years, including the spurious "Instructions for Life" e-mail and the bogus letter circulated in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks urging recipients to become "spiritual activists."

The Dalai Lama Personality Test is but another item of similar ilk. Years before it came to be associated with
the Dalai Lama, this "personality test" was circulating online without any such claim of authorship. (We found it posted to a USENET newsgroup in 1998, where it was then presented merely as an "identity test.")

The best way to regard this "personality test" is to consider it similar to a horoscope or a fortune cookie: all of them make broad, general predictions which seemingly apply to a great many people. The skeptical dismiss such predictions as random shots which occasionally hit their marks (in the same way that a stopped clock is still right twice a day); the credulous marvel over their accuracy, find ways to make the results apply to themselves, and overlook the parts that don't fit.

An example of this can be seen on "Mary's Blog"

Here is what I put down as my answers and I was surprised how it really matches up to me!

The part about making a wish, and emailing it to others so that it comes true is why it appears on the "break the chain" website, because that is standard spam psychology. That site has a wonderfully withering comment:

It is unlikely that the venerable Dalai Lama would concern himself with cheesy "personality tests," like this one. It's also unlikely that he would wish you good fortune, but only if you forward the message.

What would be really interesting psychologically would be to know what people work through the test, and having done so, send it on (for "good luck") to the number of people given in answer to one question - what is your favourite number?

Actually it brings bad luck, because some poor devil has one extra lot of spam cluttering their inbox.

I didn't send it on (I never send spam on), and for those interested, and something which would make impossible that question, my favourite number is pi = 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510 (approximately). I don't have a favourite whole number, they're too boring! But what else would you expect from a mathematician?

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