Re: Another tedious hypothetical

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2005 14:02:37 +1000

Pete Carlton wrote:

>Jesse has it right on here, and one can go even further in this vein. You
>are impressed by the relationship between one particular story and one
>particular event - but you hand-picked both the story and the event for
>discussion here because of their superficial similarities. You challenged
>me to find another example of a story with the same resemblances that the
>Heinlein story has to the atomic bomb project. But resemblances between
>any written story and any similar event that happens after the story's
>publication would be in the same class.
>I'm not saying that the resemblances between the story and the bomb are
>trivial - they do make an impression. It also makes an impression when
>someone dreams of a relative dying and the next day they receive news that
>that relative did in fact die that night; or when you're in a foreign city
>and you look up the number of the taxi company and it turns out to be your
>home phone number, or when exactly 100 years separate (1) the election to
>Congress (2) the election to the presidency (3) the birth of the assassins
>of and (4) the birth of the successors of John F. Kennedy and Abraham

You also need to consider what in the academic world is called publication
bias. Richard Feynman once told a story about a sudden premonition he had
that his grandmother had died. Uncannily, the next moment the phone rang -
and it was his grandmother, alive and well. For every case you hear about
where a premonition (or whatever) miraculously "comes true", there are the
hundreds of cases where it doesn't come true, which you don't hear about
because they're not noteworthy.

Is it just a coincidence that just about everyone on this list is a cynical

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Tue Jun 07 2005 - 00:05:05 PDT

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