Re: Another tedious hypothetical

From: Pete Carlton <>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 13:01:03 -0700

On Jun 5, 2005, at 11:14 PM, Bruno Marchal wrote:

> I would say 0:
>> 0. All a Coincidence (I don't see *big* coincidences)
> and then 5.
> I'm agnostic about what you talk about. I love the book by Suzanne
> Blackmore "In search of the light" because it shows parapsychology
> can be done seriously, but then the evidence are until today rather
> negative. "Drinking coffee in the morning" is sufficiently
> miraculous for me now. With comp, evidence of precognition could be
> evidence for the very low-levelness of the substitution level.

I'm with Bruno (both on option "0" and on coffee).

You might like to read Richard Dawkins's book "Unweaving the
Rainbow", especially the chapter "Unweaving the Uncanny". It
contains a thorough demolishing of the human intuition to put
importance on seeming coincidences such as your Heinlein story.

You are very willing to say "Even if we didn't go to a phonebook and
look up the relative number of "Silards" or "Lenzes" vs the more
common names, it's fairly obvious that the probabilities of this
being a chance occurrence are on the order of one in tens of
millions." It's precisely this "obviousness", and the number (tens
of millions) that you are failing to account for in any way.

You also haven't been too precise about the population of events that
you would also have accepted to be a coincidence. You take the name
"Lenz" to be significant because the bomb involved a lens -- so you
would also presumably have accepted the names "Baum" (bomb), Beryl,
Berle, ". "Silard" and "Szilard" are very similar, but I am willing
to bet that "Schiller" or "Stiller" or "Sellars" would also have
tripped your coincidenceometer. You mention "Korzybski" presumably
because you see a resemblance to "Kistiakowski"; you probably would
have also accepted Kieslowski, Kowaleski, Kowalowski, Krzyzanowski,
Kuczynski, or indeed any other Polish surname. You would probably
not have accepted "Franklin" - but then you might have been able to
find some other aspect of the bomb project that involved a Frank, or
a Lynn, or something taking place in Frankfurt.. and so on.

The point is, there are enough stories published in any year that it
would be a trivial matter to find a few superficial resemblances
between any event and a story that came before it.
Received on Mon Jun 06 2005 - 16:03:08 PDT

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