kamalktk said:

ok, but your original post includes the mirrored Supertramp album cover. If it is silly, please remove it.

Oh yes, I know I did and its precisely what I was referring to. By silly I mean that the further you go down that road the less credible it becomes as something to find odd and entertaining because it's less striking and obvious and certainly can't be held up as evidence of anything "spooky" without being sniggered at. But why would I remove it? It's not being supplied as evidence for anything but the kind of image I seek to gather here. The Supertramp image is the first I found online and is, to me, cute, entertaining and tickles the imagination with its discovered inclusion of a 9/11 simulacrum above the towers. The starting point of this is not remotely to prove anything as I begin with the assumption that such proof is impossible or it would have been recognised long long ago.

Again I'm hoping others will post other such images, not specifically 9/11 related, so they can be gathered in one place. I seem to recall one where a dream "psychic" who used to paint or sketch his dreams and photograph himself in front of the calendar clock in his local Barclay's Bank as proof of the date produced a 9/11 related image and was photographed holding it a year before the event, with the added coincidence of the date on the clock behind him in fact being September 11 (or else the time was 9:11, or both). It would be good to find that.

kamalktk said:

then you do need to look at probability and control groups and such if you want to say with certainty.

Again, no I don't. But you do give me the opportunity to go off on one of my thought tangents about the application of statistics and probability to striking coincidences. This is no way directed at you, I'm just gathering some thoughts on the subject.

Whenever a remarkable seeming coincidence is observed the sceptic will demystify it by making one of two points on the subject of likelihood.

First that Joe Schmo is ignorant of probability and if he stopped to multiply the number of Xs in the world by the frequency of Ys he would realise how inevitable and unremarkable its is that Z will turn up eventually and quite regularly.

Secondly he'll quite rightly draw attention to the fact that the longest of odds against an event in no way count against the event happening. This is usually expressed in the form of pointing out the odds of winning the lottery are millions to one and yet the lottery is always won. (This strikes me as a remarkable misapplication of logic, since the two events referred to bear no relation to each other. The former is about the odds of a SPECIFIC INDIVIDUAL winning. But still, let's accept the general principle..long odds are not evidence of spookiness.)

And this is all fine and rational and perfectly persuasive. But its always struck me that the same misunderstanding and abuse of probability is employed by the sceptic. He tries to apply odds to something which cannot be calculated. Namely, the likelihood of a unique event.

What am I talking about? Take two of the 9/11 themed images posted here and see how they are dealt with. The Simpsons one and the Coup record cover one.

The simpsons image was from a webpage about unlikely coincidences which supplied various conspiracy themed oddities, acknowledged their intial ability to pull you up in wonder and then added a "why its bullshit" explanation to demystify it. In the case of this image it pointed out the simpsons has been going over 20 years, produced perhaps thousand of episodes with ten of thousand themes or ideas, so that its inevitable some of them would occassionally coincide with world events. Indeed it would be far more remarkable if it never did.

Sounds convincing, reasonable, scientific? Does to me. I'll go along with that.

Now take the Coup album cover...ostensibly an identical coincidence: an image that appears to relate to a specific external event in advance. How would this be dealt with? Well when you consider how many thousands of bands and artists there are, and the number of album covers that must have been produced in a given time frame we must be talking many countless thousands of such covers, in which context its inevitable one or more of them would appear to coincide with 9/11 or a similar news event.

Sounds convincing, reasonable, scientific? Does to me. I'll go along with that too.

But there's a problem I suspect 99% of people would never notice let alone question. I wasn't remotely consistent. It sounded like I was. It looked like I was. Even I would swear that I was. But I wasn't.

Between the two examples I randomly changed the parameters, the values being multiplied to come up with the desired outcome...a sufficiently large number to make the coincidence seem inevitable. And this happens all the time with the sceptical application of probability without anyone ever questioning it...after all it sounded like I was beign rational, I used ..you know..maths 'n' stuff.

In the Simpsons example I used the output of the Simpsons show itself (not the number of cartoons generally, or frames from cartoons, or general tv shows or anything else) to produce my large number. But if I'd applied the same logic consistently or according to any kind of fixed rules for calculating these things I'd have been buggered in my attempt to demystify the Coup album. Because I've never heard of them and imagine their output of album covers would be somewhere between 1 and 3. If I'd been consistent with the maths what made the Simpsons less spooky would make the Coup more so. That wouldn't do. So without a second's thought I simply changed the parameters..its not about their output, its about the total output of album covers by anyone and everyone. If the number hadn't been large enough I'd have changed it again from teh output in one year to the output in 20, if that still wasn't large enough I'd expand it from the United States to the world, and if there'd been an album cover drought, I'd have expanded it from album covers to creative photographs or images generally. In other words the maths would remain completely sound, the logic would be completely sound, the appearance of reason would remain steadfast and unquestioned.....but the values being multiplied to make the point there's nothing to see here are entirely up to me, I can pick and choose them on a whim if it produces the desired outcome.

How can I do this? Simply because there IS no mathematics for calculating the probability of a unique event or a personally meaningful coincidence! What values you choose to include or exclude in your calculation are entirely at your own discretion. And this is not even confined to the size of the group I choose to place my given event within... I can even change the direction and subject of the group at my own free will to meet my purposes. For example what principle dictates I should calculate the likelihood of the Coup cover in terms of album covers in the world rather than in terms of the number of buildings in the world they could have chosen to depict being blown up? If we'd based our calculation on the latter the odds of them choosing to use the "correct" one, on purely statistical grounds, would appear not less spooky but astronomically more so!

THAT DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING SUPERNATURAL IS GOING ON!! What I'm suggesting is that the sceptic deeply misuses and misapplies probability to certain kinds of coincidence every bit as much as the gullible punter does...only the veneer of mathematical objectivity means he gets away with doing so more often.