Critical thinking skills and conspiracies (Part 3)

See Part One
See Part Two

In the JFK assassination, skeptics noticed a high death rate among witnesses due to unnatural causes such as car accidents, gunshot wounds, suicides. Death by accident is a rare occurrence, so let’s say that the chances that any one of us will die today in a car accident is one in 500. That’s actually very low. The odds of death by car accident are much higher, but I do not know what they are. Insurance actuaries make such calculations.

But when two, three, or a dozen important witnesses are CONNECTED to a single event, such as the JFK murder, then we have commonality and can multiply probabilities. Say that only three witnesses died in unusual circumstances (it is many, many more): 500 x 500 x 500 = one in 125,000,000. Yes – one chance in one hundred and twenty-five million that those three deaths would happen under normal circumstances.

This does not mean that such coincidences are impossible. Other factors, such as longevity, time frame and personal habits (drinking and drug use) must be considered. We have not PROVED anything. It is merely analytical EVIDENCE. But people who are skilled in critical thinking realize that three witnesses to one event all dying in unusual circumstances is highly suspicious, is in fact an ANOMALY. Further investigation and higher suspicion is warranted. That is simply how investigators reason. It is their logical backdrop.

People who rely on coincidence theory to explain away related phenomenon sometimes use a gymnastic trick to twist statistical probability on its head. What are the odds, they ask, that a golf ball hit from a tee will land on a particular blade of grass on the golf course?

The answer is both astronomical and meaningless. The odds that it will hit some blade of grass (assuming it does not land in a sand trap) is nearly 100%. But one event by itself is not meaningful. It is only RELATED events that matter. So the golf example is better asked as follows: What are the odds that two golf balls struck from the tee hit the same blade of grass?

The answer is, bear with me: (One divided by (one divided by / the number of grass blades on a green)) squared. Astronomical, many many billions to one.

The example, meant to “debunk” conspiracy theorists, is nonsense.

I will refer back to this post as I move forward with various conspiracies and theories. The purpose is to demonstrate that conspiracy theorists are solidly grounded in statistical analysis, while people who rely on faith in our government and other institutions are not. Further, conspiracy theorists are more skilled at basic problem solving, and rely on evidence more than faith, and are not afraid to think bad thoughts about events, leaders, and the implications if we have some bad people in power. Such things are common throughout history.

End, Part 3

8 thoughts on “Critical thinking skills and conspiracies (Part 3)

        1. No I am not. I don’t live in fear of anything.

          However, I was scared of communists up until 1988, when I had a breakthrough and realized the fear was irrational. Right after that, the Soviet Union collapsed. See how powerful a little bit of knowledge is?

          (There was a time when fear of nuclear attack was rational – 1945 to 1949, then the US had the bomb alone, and there was no deterrent to using it. And indeed, that is the only time the bomb has ever been used. We do have to hope our military is comprised of sane men and women, and that is indeed a cause of concern.)

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    1. Russia has neither a 500 or a 2,000 warhead scenario. At the first sign of a nuclear explosion on Russian soil, all their nukes get automatically launched. Game (and civilization) over. The days of the “football” with the red phone, and a big black button are over. Now it’s just a game of chicken.

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