1. I go to the track and place a bet on a horse because its name is the same as my son's and the jockey is wearing #5, which is my son's hockey jersey number.Now, I think #1 is distinctly different from 2 and 3, because in #1, she knows what the answer is when she adopts the rule. In #2 and #3, she excitingly adopts the rule and locks herself into a result that is unknown. But all 3 are about adopting a rule to make a decision while knowing that there is nothing about the rule that will improve the quality of the decision. One could superstitiously believe that the rule would make the decision good or religiously believe — in examples 2 and 3 — that God knew you'd adopted the rule and was giving you a sign about what was the right decision. And one could think that the rule would generate randomness where somehow a nonrandom decision seemed bad. But basically, the decisionmaker is being playful or poetic.
2. I can't decide what to order for lunch so I decide that I'll order whatever the person in front of me orders.
3. I'm not sure what color car to purchase so I decide to purchase the color of the next car that drives by my house.
So is there a word for this?
And do you have any good examples of using this sort of decisionmaking — colorful and exciting rules you've made for yourself? Obviously, there are a lot of standard ways approaches like rolling the dice or consulting the Magic 8 ball, but how about some weird stuff? Or why not make up a rule for yourself about something right now and do it? Got a decision to make? Make it based on something strange and as-yet-undetermined. And tell us about it.
This made me think of "Slacker" — one of my favorite movies. We see 2 women walking along the sidewalk. One says: "The next person who passes us will be dead within a fortnight." But that's not a case of the phenomenon my colleague means – not unless we're supposed to view the speaker as a murderer choosing a victim. The standard interpretation is that she's a psychic.
ADDED: Someone in the comments mentions Dadaism, and that reminds me of "A Book of Surrealist Games." I think example #3 could be seen as a sort of surrealist game. The more we talk about these examples, the more I think they are 3 different things. Several commenters have said that #1 is superstition, and I think it is either superstition — in the form of overvaluing a coincidence — or a sentimental delight in coincidence. #2 seems to be conformity or a rational bet based on a tiny amount of evidence. Someone who is eating here is eating that, so maybe he knows what's good. Only #3 is surrealist and dangerous — but nowhere near as much as if you'd chosen the color of your car based on something other than the color of someone else's car. Chances are it will be an ordinary car color, and at least someone else has seen fit to get a car that color. That said, I saw a bright purple car 2 days ago. It looked like hell. And I love the color purple. It just looks like hell on a car.