Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Happy Friday the 13th

One of the Most Holy Days of the Church of Anecdote and Confirmation bias is here.

Will it be quiet? Oops, the utterance of the word Quiet can turns any day into a Friday the 13th for some celebrants of this religion, at least for those who work in EM/EMS (Emergency Medicine/Emergency Medical Services).

Are these superstitions unreasonable? Absolutely, but try explaining that to someone who rejects reason.

How do you reason with people who reject reason? Presenting large quantities of objective evidence is not going to matter to believers, because their self-worth depends, to some extent, on protecting themselves from being reasonable.

A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances that have no apparent causal connection with one another. The perception of remarkable coincidences may lead to supernatural, occult, or paranormal claims. Or it may lead to belief in fatalism, which is a doctrine that events will happen in the exact manner of a predetermined plan.

From a statistical perspective, coincidences are inevitable and often less remarkable than they may appear intuitively. An example is the birthday problem, which shows that the probability of two persons having the same birthday already exceeds 50% in a group of only 23 persons.[1] [1]

Uncountable numbers of unrelated events happen at apparently the same time. Since time itself is relative, the point of reference of the observer can be a factor in the appearance of coincidence. For example, thunder will be heard by a person at the same time the person sees lightning, while a mile away, a person sees the lightning 5 seconds before hearing the thunder. The thunder and lightning have the same cause, but the lightning and the thunder separate by even more time, from the perspective of even more distant observers.

The lack of perspective about observations has led people to develop more superstitions about coincidences than have been documented.

Casinos depend on superstition.

You have a system? Excellent. Come and apply your system to our games of chance. We will take your bets.

Casinos will not just take just your bets. Casinos will take trillions of dollars of bets, because they have arranged the odds to be, at least, slightly in their favor.

Do you wait for someone to put all of their money into a slot machine, then take their seat, expecting that the machine is overdue to pay out?

Casinos pay millions of dollars for famous people to perform on stage to draw you in to use that kind of system. The Casino will take your bet. Your money will help to pay even more for expensive entertainers.

You count cards?

Brilliant! The dealer, or a manager, is also counting cards and trained to recognize when someone is using a betting system based on card counting. The cameras, which watch everything happening at the tables, are also helping to track your habits. The cameras will also get high quality images of you, which casinos share as part of their countermeasures. Card counting is not illegal, but the casino can do a lot to keep the odds in the favor of the casino.

Roulette games have systems, as well. Likewise, the casinos want you to bet your money on your systems. They have bills to pay and your money is just a drop in the bucket to the casinos.

You don’t believe in coincidences?

Companies make trillions of dollars off of your belief. Your belief is their business and their business is profitable.

However, if you want to get better at recognizing the biases you have, challenge yourself to bets on the outcomes of your beliefs. It doesn’t have to be money. You can bet doing something you don’t want to do against doing something you do want to do, based on whether you are right about something you believe.

Write down what you believe/believe will happen. Write down your criteria for winning/losing. Don’t make excuses for fudging the criteria. Maybe doing something that you should do, but really don’t want to do. Think of how much you will accomplish – if you are honest with yourself and you set your bets up objectively.

Footnotes:

[1] Coincidence
Wikipedia
Web page

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Comments

  1. You used the “Q” word on purpose. Damn your unfinished noodles to the Strainer of Separation!

    Praise His Noodly Appendage, His coming and going.

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