From the The New York Review of Books
Has an interesting theory on the frequency with which we might expect to experience a miracle; on average, it would be about one a month. Based on that, and based on the fact that I don’t remember any “miracles“, it appears I’ve missed over 600. Wow, pay attention, Chris.
One in a Million By Freeman J. Dyson
Debunked! ESP, Telekinesis, Other Pseudoscience by Georges Charpak and Henri Broch, translated from the French by Bart K. Holland
Johns Hopkins University Press, 176 pp., $25.00
Debunked! is short and highly readable. It tells good stories about human foolishness masquerading as science. It offers useful assistance to citizens trying to tell the difference between sense and nonsense. When it was published in France, the title was Devenez sorciers, devenez savants, which means literally, “Become magicians, become experts,” or more freely translated, “Learn to do magic and learn to see through it.” The English title misses the point. The book is saying that the best way to avoid being deceived by magic tricks is to learn to do the tricks yourself.
… Littlewood’s Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person’s life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month. Broch tells stories of some amazing coincidences that happened to him and his friends, all of them easily explained as consequences of Littlewood’s Law.