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Discussion 2 to Meditation 534
Anecdotes are not proof

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As I wrote to Glenn in Meditation 534, if you want to believe there is a supernatural cause, that's your own choice. But, if you want others to accept such a belief, it is your responsibility to prove it. You have provided no proof.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a TV program.[1] One of the subplots involved a recurring power failure. Both times the power failed in the TV show, my television screen blacked out momentarily and the image returned pixillated, an effect which lasted a couple of seconds before the normal picture was restored. It was if the power to the TV was interrupted for a millisecond at the exact same time as the power failed in the story line.

To me that's an amusing coincidence. The fact it happened twice in one show does not change my mind that it was a coincidence. To suggest that the fictional power failure in the story directly affected my TV would be ludicrous. No doubt there is a technical reason for the momentary interruption in screen display, but it is not related to the story being shown on the screen.

It is the same for apparent curses in movies. If the stories circulated about these events are true, then there is a cause for each specific event. But the cause is not supernaturally related to the appearance of the devil in the movie.

Anecdotal evidence proves nothing. It ignores all those movies in which nothing memorable happened, even if Satan appeared in them.

Suppose you were to catalogue all the misfortunes which occurred in all movies ever made - or at least in a truly randomly selected sample. Then, suppose a proper mathematical analysis showed that there was a statistically significant number of additional misfortunes related to movies in which Satan was a character.[2] Would this prove your point?

It still would not prove that there was a supernatural cause. It would be far more likely that the misfortunes were all caused by humans. One possibility would be that belief in a curse would cause nervousness leading to increased errors. Another possibility would be that believers in the existence Satan wishing to demonstrate his power deliberately caused the events.

If my insistence at looking at the real world for causes of misfortune makes you think I am close-minded, so be it. At least I am not close-minded to reality.


  1. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - 2 October 2006
  2. To the best of my knowledge no such study has ever been attempted