30 JAN 2015 by ideonexus


PETWHAC stands for Population of Events That Would Have Appeared Coincidental. Population may seem an odd word, but it is the correct statistical term. I won't keep using capital letters because they stand so unattractively on the page. Somebody's watch stopping within ten seconds of the psychic's incantation obviously belongs within the petwhac, but so do many other events. Strictly speaking, the grandfather clock's stopping should not be included. The mystic did not claim that he could stop...
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12 JUN 2012 by ideonexus

 The Magical Number Seven

What about the magical number seven? What about the seven wonders of the world, the seven seas, the seven deadly sins, the seven daughters of Atlas in the Pleiades, the seven ages of man, the seven levels of hell, the seven primary colors, the seven notes of the musical scale, and the seven days of the week? What about the seven-point rating scale, the seven categories for absolute judgment, the seven objects in the span of attention, and the seven digits in the span of immediate memory? For ...
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Occurs in many cultural artifacts, but there is not obvious profundity to the number.

01 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 A Clock Stopped at the Moment Feynman's Wife Died

Sometimes we can actually pin down the explanation of a weird coincidence. A great American scientist called Richard Feynman tragically lost his wife to cancer, and the clock in her room stopped at precisely the moment she died. Goose-pimples! But Dr Feynman was not a great scientist for nothing. He worked out the true explanation. The clock was faulty. If you picked it up and tilted it, it tended to stop. When Mrs Feynman died, the nurse needed to record tl the time for the official death ce...
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But he traced the phenomenon to a faulty mechanism in the clock that triggered when the nurse picked it up to record the time of death.

12 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 People are Too Disbelieving of Coincidence

People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.
Folksonomies: chance coincidence
Folksonomies: chance coincidence
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...and go to great lengths to construct rationalizations to explain it, when, in reality, a lack of coincidence would be an incredible coincidence.