Apr

19

Bad Days, from Alston Mabry

April 19, 2007 |

Here's a theory about how the Mistress might deceive us with randomness:

We think we see a relationship, where event B follows event A, or rather, A causes B. Then we see this AB sequence again, and the again, until we have a data set that convinces us to bet on B whenever we see A. However, if we could see into both the past and the future of recurring event A, we might see sequences of events like this:

AD AC AE AE AE AA AC AB AB AB AB AB AB AB AD AX AD AD AZ AE AE AE AC …

It turns out that the series of events pairs AB is just random. But when we see AB start to repeat, our brains imply causation. The more instances of AB we observe, the more certain our brains become that the causal relationship exists. The irony and the trap is that in this case, where the series of AB pairs is random, the further along we are in the series, the closer we are to its end. So the more certain we are of the causal relationship, the closer we are to being stuck holding the bag. 


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