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“Accidental Coincidences” How To Foil Them

When in a game of cards the four aces “happen” to be in one “lucky” hand as if by “accident” it is called in scientific language an “accidental coincidence.”

Those of us who have studied and marveled at the work of the Great Architect, wherein we find the geometric design in its minutest particles as well as in their immense aggregate, we know that in such a structure there really can be no room for happenings by luck or accident; therefore, and notwithstanding its being the cause of deception in our judgment, we reject the word coincidence in its accidental sense, but we accept it in its orderly co-related significance. Sidus is Latin for a planet or a group of stars. Figuratively it is used in allusion to the influence of the stars. If sidus is the root of the word co-in-cidence, the word is self defining; when joined to the word accidental it becomes as absurd as “common sense,” “free will,” “scare-crow,” or delicious mudpie.

The judgment of sage and fool alike is prompted by impulse. We are therefore always prejudiced, pro or con, on any disputed question and prone to form premature opinions. A mathematical method of guiding and checking the judgment is therefore imperative to the investigator. I am about to present an idea, which I will illustrate by two simple examples.

Let us take the supposition that personal characteristics coincide in a certain measure with the nature of the rising sign at birth. There are 12 signs. I select from my audience 12 typical persons who know their birth hour. We will suppose that I guess correctly only one, failing on 11. The result is then termed negative. Suppose I hit 8 and miss 4. Any reasonable person will accept such result as proof, still I may have been just “lucky,” it may have been an “accidental coincidence.” But suppose in a long series of experiments I hit more than 1, we will say, my average score is 2 against 10. This would prove the supposition true, but only in a small degree, or my knowledge as very limited.

Some may protest my right to pick the types and insist that I take 12 persons by turn. My reason is that there are but few simple types, most are complex, that is, commixtures of several signs due to the planetary combinations, and being able to judge only from the effect of the rising sign, therefore I reserve the right to pick the types. If there were no truth in the supposition it could make no difference whether I pick or take by turn.

For another example, let us take the supposition that changes in the weather coincide with the time of the new moon. First we must decide on a certain locality and on what is to be reckoned as changes. We will say there are 28 days in a Lunar month. Let us allow 24 hours before and after the exact hour of the new moon as a margin for the supposed influence to work out a change. This gives 2 days to the 28, or 1 to 14 as a negative score. Or we may prefer to give the influence a working margin of say, 4 days, in which case we get 4 to 28, or 1 to 7 as a negative-That is to say, any score above the negatives, 1 to 14 or 1 to 7, whichever we choose, shall determine the degree of influence effective upon the weather from the one single factor, the new moon. Read the article on Weather in Wilson’s “Dictionary” and try as suppositions the various moon changes mentioned. Test them singly or simultaneously over a period of two or four years in your home district.

These two examples are so simple that everybody can understand and work them. Without some such method much fine discrimination will be needed to eliminate ambiguities and determine the relative truth in all questions, simple or complex. By the aid of a deck of cards it should be possible to outline a checking system in tabular arrangement of double, triple and quadruple index, according to the complexity of a given supposition. Meanwhile experimenting with the cards will give one a good general insight into the nature of the inquiry.

The lax apprehension of deception from the ever-present “accidental coincidences” is what leads the credulous to “find within themselves the means of believing in a thousand times as much as there is to believe in.” On the other hand, an exaggerated apprehension of the same thing has lead the incredulous to persist in rejecting everything until forced to accept. Too frequently our great men of science, and educated people generally, exhibit a vain pride in such incredulity, as if it were more becoming to the intellect to be out of balance one way rather than the other way. Certainly credulity and incredulity as well are both synonyms for an unbalanced judgment.

It is almost unbelievable that science has no mathematical system for guiding and checking the judgment, and yet I know of none, the large inquiring world knows of none, and if any exists it is evidently not in working order, since our worthy teachers are forever disputing amongst themselves over simple, but important life issues, which may be easily tested by experiment and final conclusions guarded against deception from “accidental coincidences” by simple mathematics.

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