About those patterns on your palms

The lines on one’s palms are a result of the hand needing to fold in order to grasp and grab things. Any utility more than that, especially supernatural ones which claim to reveal fate, seem to be the result of the human tendency to seek and find meaning even when it is not there.

We are pattern-finding animals. We have evolved to see meaning everywhere. We saw animal shapes in the stars and that’s where constellations came from. In reality, one combination of stars is no different from another one. It is we who assign meanings to them.

The same goes for the lines on our hands. Because many human beings through history have worked under the assumption that there is a higher purpose behind our existence, ways and customs have always existed that claim to offer insights into this higher purpose.

Palmistry is one such claim. Specifically, it is the claim that information about an individual’s past, present, and future is coded into the lines of their palm and that this information can be read by those who have the training. This art can also be learnt, if one is to believe any one of the many palmistry websites on the web.

People who believe that there is genuine meaning in palm reading either fool themselves and rationalise to make reality fit the readings, or they fail to compare the results to the outcome of complete random chance.

It won’t take much investigation to find a young corpse with a long life line or a homeless man whose palm reading says he is a king. But we generally discard such anomalies by applying layer upon layer of sophistication to the so-called art of palm reading.

Palmistry and its cousins (face-reading for example) feed on the human need to believe that we hold some special position in the universe. The urge to do so is understandable. What are we without meaning? But it is always useful to make a clear distinction between that which is known and that which is not. The human imagination is a powerful weapon. We should use it, not get used by it. If we let it, our imagination will show us our own reflection everywhere.

Don’t believe me? Look at the image below. You cannot not see a face in it. That’s how powerful your imagination is. That’s how strong the urge to find meaning is.