Forum:What are the odds? What is your explanation?: Opinions requested

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Okay, so I wanna tell you guys a weird personal anecdote. You're free to question my honesty, but I'm not trying to convince anyone that magic is real or stuff. All I'm asking is: If this happened to you, how would you react? How would you explain it?

So, my brother was showing me some card tricks - ya know, pick a card and I'll guess what card it is, that sorta stuff. After a couple of those tricks, I told him I'd show him a real card trick. So I took a pack of cards with the back of the cards facing upwards and spread it across the floor. Now I said I'd reveal the colour (black/red) and the number/identity of some random cards on the floor. So I put my hand on a random card, concentrated on it, said whatever came up in my mind and flipped the card. How many times I got it right? About 5 times. But here's how often I got it wrong: exactly 0 times. That's right, I got it right at every attempt. I was getting seriously spooked so I stopped flipping cards. Seriously, what the hell? My brother obviously thought I was cheating somehow..

Honestly, I wasn't using any sort of trick. Is my subconscious perception and memory so flawless it could tell which card was which just from the identical-looking backs of the cards? Cards on which I had focused zero conscious effort to memorize them I might add. Did my subconsciousness access some Akashic-records kind of deal? Did I crack the code of reality? Was some reality-bending deity messing with me? Really, what would you think? (talk) 21:18, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

Whatever the underlying cause, the chances of this happening by pure chance are between 0.00000026% and 0.00000032%, depending on what you did with the card once you identified it. Those chances are really low but they're not 0. Congratulations, you were in the right place/time to experience a notable unusual thing. MarmotHead (talk) 21:45, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
My best guess is that they're not being honest/precise about what happened. While improbable things happen, their phrasing suggests an incorrectly reconstructed memory. "About 5 times" is pretty ambiguous for something like that. You could remember, for example, the cards drawn as a pattern started emerging. Ikanreed (talk) 21:49, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, I admit my memory's a bit sketchy. It happened about 10 years ago. Maybe I already stopped after 4 cards, but I'm pretty sure it was either 4 or 5. I'm 100% sure I didn't have incorrect guesses, though, so yeah, that was freaky. (talk) 22:19, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, weirder things have happened. The odds of winning the lottery jackpot are about ten times rarer than the odds of doing what you did, and we still get people who win lottery jackpots every so often. Heck, we get a number of people who win *two* jackpots. Noir LeSable (talk) 22:28, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
Phew, two jackpots. Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets then, with my luck. >.> (talk) 22:52, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
Weird things happen, but also memory isn't 100% reliable for every moment in our lives. Not that people are's just brain shorthands. Studies about witness statements of things that happen in front of them are often inconsistant. It can be affected by information after the fact, internal biases, and misattributation. Memory can also be affected by how people ask certain question.
Not to personally say anything about anyone, it happens to all of humanity, but if the doubt is about memory, low probability, and reality itself...the first one I would not question is reality. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 22:36, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm rather confident I'm not remembering it wrong, though. But what would you do if this happened to you? Would you think you're hallucinating/dreaming it maybe? (talk) 22:52, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
I do the same with dice rolls during games/board games, and occasionally with trading card games. These things happen, really. Trick (talk) 23:00, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
Sure, if you try guessing what cards/dice rolls you have a lot, you might end up guessing a sequence of them correctly, but the one time in your life that you try this you get 4/5 right with no misses? I know it happened and I still think it sounds unbelievable. (talk) 23:07, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
I have certainly remembered things wrong and been corrected, even exaggerating the event. I got heads 10 times in a row on Saturday trying to just flip a coin for a place to eat. I really didn't want heads but I just kept flipping. Not something you expect to see normally, but I didn't expect that one event one day out of my life showed I could bend reality. Sometimes, it just happens.
Also, if it just seemed like a reality bending event any time in the last 10 years...what made this event that didn't repeat itself suddenly seem relevent recently? -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 01:07, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Even if it's something my memory made up from scratch, that's still irrelevant to the question I've been asking, though.
I just thought "Hey, I've been editing this rationalist wiki for a while, I wonder what they'd make of this one really weird event that happened to me." (talk) 01:24, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

I have a problem with this story. If you didn't know you could do the "trick" before you did it... then why would you even bother putting on this demonstration for your brother?--Inquisitor (talk) 23:18, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

I was just bluffing, really. I didn't expect my attempt at "winging it" to actually work. >.> (talk) 23:23, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

Given the odds of this happening by chance I'm much more inclined to believe that you aren't remembering it incorrectly. How old were you ten years ago? Memory is a fickle thing. My mother-in-law, despite being otherwise apparently mentally sound, has this odd habit of relating detailed anecdotes about the family from the distant past (20-60 years ago) that while plausible mundane and inoffensive are often strongly denied by everyone else who was there. She isn't lying and is certain that these things happened, but they definitely didn't. Marlow (talk) 23:59, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

I was in my early teens (not that young people can't have memory problems, though). Eitherway, I remain certain that this is a thing that happened. Look, you're free to write off my anecdote due to doubts over my memory or doubts over my honesty. I'm not asking people to accept my anecdote as true based on my word, I'm just asking: if this were a thing that happened to you, what would you do? How would you try to explain it? (talk) 00:14, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
I'd assume I was misremembering it. Childhood memories are prone to confabulation. I'd also try it again. Maybe you have magic powers, but if you can't repeat it, it's either misremembered or maybe, just maybe extremely lucky. When I say misremember, I don't necessarily mean you constructed the whole event, just that maybe you are forgetting some pertinent part. What you are missing might not seem like that much of an issue, but could change the odds from 0.00000026% to 1%. Maybe you saw the cards before you laid them out and had some idea where certain card were. Marlow (talk) 00:31, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Except that's completely different from how I remember it. I didn't just lay them out, I spread them out randomly across the floor (kinda like this, but with playing cards), and made my bro help me with that. That was a pretty pertinent part of the "act", actually. Even if I'd known what the last couple or first few cards in the pack were, I couldn't have known where they'd ended up. (talk) 00:47, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
I know my memory of the sixth grade is pretty fuzzy. Your memory of the event is admittedly imperfect; was it four or five times? So keep in mind that just because you don't remember forgetting something doesn't mean that you didn't. You asked for what we'd think if it happened to us as you described, my answer is I'd chalk it up to a decade old confabulation. On the other hand if just happened I would certainly search for a rational explanation which might be more apparent to an adult rather than a child. You're clearly convinced so only one last thought before I leave you to you new found magic powers, was it a fresh pack or one that had already been used? Marlow (talk) 01:29, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
10 years ago, and in your teens? That's long enough ago to be able to implant radically extreme, totally false memories Ikanreed (talk) 01:37, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
@Marlow It wasn't a never-opened-before newly-bought pack if that's what you mean, but the cards looked newish/not-used-a-lot.
@Ikanreed Does that also apply if you've had quite a few instances of recalling the event spread out over those 10 years? Not that all this you-must-be-remembering-it-wrong stuff is actually relevant to my "What if this [just] happened to you?" question. (talk) 01:47, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
"What if this happened to you?" is an easy question to answer. Unlike you, I would not have quit flipping cards because I got "spooked". I woulda been all like "Oh snap!" and would have kept going until my luck ran out. Then I'd calculate the likelihood of something like that happening. Then I'd spend the rest of my life whipping out the story whenever something odd happens "You think that's strange, there was this time I..." --Inquisitor (talk) 03:30, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

Let's be clear here, I've done something exactly like this, and I am not suspicious of it in the slightest. I decided to pretend to know my girlfriend's 4 digit password(she got it from a random number generator) for her phone and got it exactly right. First guess. And, while a 1 in 10000 chance of happening, isn't surprising because 1 in 10000 events will happen every 10000 things that happen in your life. Some coincidences do occur. And in spite of having that similar event in my recent life, I still suggest that your memory of the event has been inflated by recall. Ikanreed (talk) 04:34, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

The other day my girlfriend had the idea to play the lottery, picked out numbers (our baby's due date, not random), and decidedly did not buy a ticket. The next day she found out she would've won $500 because she got it right. These things happen. Trick (talk) 13:10, 6 February 2015 (UTC)