Things I Learned Today

What the Texas Sharpshooter Falacy is:

“The fallacy gets its name from imagining a cowboy shooting at a barn. Over time, the side of the barn becomes riddled with holes. In some places there are lots of them, in others there are few. If the cowboy later paints a bullseye over a spot where his bullet holes clustered together it looks like he is pretty good with a gun. By painting a bullseye over a bullet hole the cowboy places artificial order over natural random chance.”

“He’s shooting at a barn!  Get ‘im!!!”  and so on…

This comes from the most recent article from the site You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self Delusion, a blog my brother introduced me to, which publishes articles about how humans tend to believe in dumb and/or irrational things (that is the psychologist in me talking).

The article on the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy also made me learn a new word!

Stochasticity: noun. the quality of lacking any predictable order or plan [syn: randomness]  

I wonder how long it will take for this to turn up in pop culture?  Instead of “how random!” I am going to start saying “how stochastic!” … and they used to call me Nerdlinger.


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