Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Volokh Conspiracy: "Have you ever had a premonition? Did you once have, say, a passing thought about an uncle, only to receive a phone call five minutes later informing you that the beloved relative has dropped dead? If so, this probably struck you as eerie. You might have vaguely believed it was ESP.

Was it? Let's see. Suppose you know of 10 people who die each year. Furthermore, suppose you think of each of them once annually. There are 105,120 five-minute intervals in a year. A simple probability calculation shows that there is a 10 in 105,120 likelihood that you will, as a matter of chance, have a thought about one of these people in the five minutes before you hear of their death. Multiply this likelihood by the population of the U.S. (about a quarter of a billion people) and you find that roughly 25,000 people each year -- about 70 a day -- will have a 'psychic' experience of this sort. In fact, it's pure coincidence."


Creepy.

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