Rhodri Marsden: The dog-muck theory and the secret of happiness

Life on Marsden

Share
Related Topics

I don't know much about football, but I know what I like. Goals, basically. I'm not bothered who scores them, and I'm not interested in the reasons why certain players fail to score enough of them. But armchair punditry is everywhere, and if you're a carbon-based life-form you can't help but absorb some of it.

Recently I noticed a phenomenon on Twitter that prompted me to conduct a deeply unscientific trial based on fundamentally flawed data, and it's time for me to publish my conclusion: every football supporter wholeheartedly believes that their favourite team is terrible. They attempt to cushion the impact of their side losing by deploying a kind of retrospective pessimism – a belief that the team lost because it never stood a chance in the first place.

There's one two-word phrase (27,800 hits on Google) that encapsulates this perfectly: "Typical Spurs." Spurs fans by no means have a monopoly on this, but for some reason I notice them doing it more than anyone else. In fact, I recently became so intrigued by the terrible plight of Tottenham Hotspur that I took a look at the Premier League Table to see what chance they might stand of avoiding relegation.

But they were third from top. This made no sense. I never saw a single tweet of celebration when Spurs won. It's almost as if football fans are waiting for the cathartic emotional experience of defeat, and the victories are merely a sideshow. If you're a supporter of Hinckley Utd, languishing at the bottom of the Blue Square Bet Conference North table with only one win all season, you must be feeling incredibly alive right now.

But I know I do the same thing in a non-football context. "This always happens to me," I mumble wearily as I accidentally tread in dog muck, recalling the two other recent occasions on which this occurred rather the several thousand it didn't. My friend Dan tells me this is known as the "availability heuristic" – and it sounds more intellectually sound than "dog-muck theory", so let's call it that. Football fans! See through the availability heuristic! Bask in the unpredictability of sport! And pedestrians! Be more carefree about dogmuck! You'll tread in it sometimes! But not often! It's fine! Let's adopt a more statistically rigorous approach to our view of misfortune! Sensible policies for a happier Britain!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently  

Shia LaBeouf to Luis Suárez: Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015