Talk:Improbable things happen

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Another thing is[edit]

People don't always recognise an 'improbable thing' when it happens - only the ones that are of particular significance to them/are recognisably 'odd.' (Editor to cub reporter - why didn't you write about the X wedding; well it didn't happen as the bride did not turn up.) And sometimes the improbability only becomes apparent many years later - and not just 'three presidents dying on 4th July.' Anna Livia (talk) 16:16, 26 September 2017 (UTC)

Redskins section[edit]

Maybe worth adding that the 'rules' of the improbable events like this can be calibrated to fit after the event, so for example instead of the rule being this:

"If the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the party that won the previous election (the incumbent party) wins the next election. If the Redskins lose this last home game, the incumbent also loses and the challenging party's candidate wins."

If that didn't fit observations, the rule might have been this:

"If the Redskins score an even number of points on their last game before the election, the party that won the previous election (the incumbent party) wins the next election. If the Redskins score an odd number of points, the incumbent also loses and the challenging party's candidate wins."

Or this:

"If the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the party with the hairiest candidate wins the next election. If the Redskins lose this last home game, the hairiest candidate also loses and the challenging party's candidate wins."

i.e. there are many different possible patterns which could be pointed to, thus greatly increasing the chances that one (or more) will fit Roleybob (talk) 10:10, 22 July 2019 (UTC)

New comment[edit]

This article is so wrong. Even the opening paragraph that includes ""Some improbable pattern of lottery numbers came up sometime in the last five years somewhere in the world."" is ridiculous. All patterns of lottery numbers are as equally improbable. The pattern of air molecules in front of your face right now are highly improbable if you tried to guess it or you waited for it. And thats just the point. Its meaningless unless you require that assortment of molecules in front of your face to achieve something. The claims of probability by creationists are perfectly reasonable and rational - you can only attack the validity of their claims about the chance. If it is statistically true for example that it'll take a certain amount of monkeys pressing random letters on keyboards at a certain speed a trillion years on average to get one of shakespeares plays out, and if the complexity of that was the same as the complexity of life (no one can answer this perfectly of course) then I'm sorry the chances are you'll need a trillion years. I nearly went out and bought a lottery ticket when I first read this article - but then I screwed my head back on. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Complex life hasn't risen from chance, however, so the argument between the hypothetical monkeys and complex work and the complexity of life isn't even a good analogy. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario! 23:08, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
If you believe it hasn't risen from chance then yes its not a good analogy, but whether life arrived from chance is not the point of of this article of course. Yes I know I did raise creationism as the example as the article did - but my argument that this article is nonsense is just general in regards to probability. I note you say "complex life" - I'm sure there are arguments from creationists about the chance of the evolutionary process being able to do what is claimed but there are also many arguments with valid points about the improbability of the first life or very simple life coming into being. Let alone the chance of the right rate of universal expansion to allow for life and a billion other things we don't even know about. But yeah this article is basically saying that that an argument that something is unlikely is invalid because everything is unlikely, and that is delusional. I should not advise my friend not to bother buying lottery tickets because improbable things happen all the time? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs
I think there's a difference between prediction/expectation against probability, and having already dealt something, something already happened, but then assuming it can't have happened because it was highly improbable. The latter is what creationists argue when it comes to whatever the probability of life is, that life couldn't have emerged from chance because it's unlikely life emerges. Factoring in complex life probability isn't really a good analogy since complex life didn't arise from chance, so you should instead try to argue on the probability of simple life. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario! 23:44, 29 August 2019 (UTC)
Are you saying here, your claim of how something happened is correct because it happened? Can you see the problem? No one is denying it happened. Far be it from me to say we didn't somehow come into existence, especially as I am typing this right now. We won't go into the validity of "I think therefore I am" etc. We are discussing how something happened. If you think you can say it happened the way you say it happened because it happened, I'd say we have a problem. It is perfectly reasonable and rational for someone to question your belief in how something happened because of what they believe are the chances it happened that way. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs
I'm arguing not necessarily existence, I'm arguing about the mechanisms of how things came to me. Creationists don't deny complex life, they think that it's more likely some entity created life rather than life appearing and then becoming extremely complicated because the latter appears to be ridiculously unlikely. If that does sound like nonsense because the chance that an entity in a particular religion out of hundreds that exist is also stupidly low, I think it is, it's creationism, it's kinda abject nonsense from the start. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario! 00:07, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Lets leave creationism and evolution etc out of it and just talk about probability. Did you effectively say above "an argument about the chances of how something happened is invalid because it happened", and if so, do you see any problems with that? I should create an account i know. (talk) 00:13, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
No, I said "an argument that says something couldn't have happened because it's unlikely it could happen isn't a valid argument". --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario! 00:20, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
No intelligent being would argue with this. Lets have a totally imaginary scenario. x = the amount of electrons that exist in one universe, (thats quite a few - remember 50 suns explode every second in the universe). Ok we have x amount of parallel universes, and we have an x amount of standard earth years. We have something (like my footy team winning the grand final) that will only happen on average once every this x amount of years in the x number of universes. Now could this possibly happen in our apparently finite universe of 10 billion years? In theory, yes it could. But it only could in theory. If it does happen, thats what is commonly known as a miracle of course. And if you're arguing it happened that way (I'm not saying you are as we're not talking about anything specific here) you should probably reasonably expect some folks to question that. I'm not saying that anything requires that timeframe etc (well my footy team might) - its just an imaginary scenario. You might even say my scenario might require more faith than that required for the belief in a creator for example, but this can't be measured of course. (talk) 00:36, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
As the article points out, this perception of improbability comes from a poor understanding of how the processes of abiogenesis and evolution work. It is exceedingly unlikely that a random group of molecules in vacuum would arrange themselves in the form of a human person, but it is highly likely that a human person will give birth to another human person who turns out to be slightly shorter than they are, or have a slightly smaller appendix, or have an extra finger, or a slightly modified brain structure. Hannasanarion (talk) 00:15, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
I disagree. Lets leave creation/evolution etc out of it. The article is basically claiming that the improbability of a theory has nothing to do with its validity as a theory which is absurd surely? Don't get caught up in abiogenesis and how processes work in smaller steps etc - as you are then just saying the probability suggested by the creationist in this instance is wrong - because they're not aware how it works. Thats not the issue here. It is fine to contest the claim of how improbable anything is and thats all you're doing in your comment. What isn't fine is to say that the improbability isn't a problem because improbable things happen all the time. The probability of a theory, or how likely it is that its true or accurate, is all we have with any theory. — Unsigned, by: / talk

Holmesian fallacy[edit]

Am I stupid or is this contradictory to the Holmesian fallacy if you change the assertion to 'When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, is likely to be the truth' ?Highboi (talk) 16:49, 24 April 2022 (UTC)

I would say that "improbable things happen" and the "Holmesian fallacy" do stand in opposition, but are not inherently contradictory. The Holmesian fallacy is about the absolute (impossible) not the uncertain (improbably). In the real world, absolute certainty rarely exists. The Holmesian fallacy arises because of the unstated false assumption of omniscience. One can be absolutely certain in most of mathematics and logic, but not much else. One can be certain in physics perhaps in some cases when uncertainty approaches nil (e.g., the Sun will rise tomorrow). Bongolian (talk) 17:38, 24 April 2022 (UTC)

Examples in crime[edit]

In crime investigations, sometimes a person happens to completely coincidentally fit as the perpetrator, except they aren't the perpetrator.

Here's a funny example. A toymaker whose life details lined up a little too well with what the FBI knew about the Unabomber. Except he wasn't the Unabomber. Chillpilled (talk) 15:46, 16 April 2024 (UTC)