Spent some time in a waiting room this morning (it is a beautiful day here, btw), and while there I read the Jan/Feb edition of the AARP magazine, which had an interesting piece on miracles. There was a religious bit to it, which I won’t discuss, because my thoughts on that sort of thing are pretty well known and just piss people off, but one portion of the piece was the best description of statistics using common language that I have seen in a long while:
Consider the survey results: of those who believe in miracles, 84 percent say they happen because of God. About three quarters further identify Jesus and the Holy Spirit as sources of miracles, while lesser numbers attribute them to angels (47 percent), saints (32 percent), deceased relatives or others who have passed on (19 percent), and other spirits (18 percent).
So what’s going on? Wouldn’t the Creator of the universe have better things to tend to than pulling off the occasional miracle? It depends, of course, on whom you ask.
To a scientist, events that many would consider miracles are not only explainable, they’re inevitable—because in a universe of nearly infinite possibilities, outrageously unexpected things have to happen at least occasionally.
“The Law of Large Numbers shows that an event with a low probability of occurrence in a small number of trials has a high probability of occurrence in a large number of trials,” says Scientific American columnist Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things (W.H. Freeman, revised, 2002). “Events with a million-to-one odds happen 295 times a day in America.”
Enough with the miracles, and on to the sacrilege. Was it really necessary for someone to remake Drive by the Cars? Really?
BTW- get used to conspicuous product placement such as the link above. At least I am not asking you to send silly putty to Nancy Pelosi.