It sounds like an incredible coincidence, but you also have to take into account all the *other* stories which did not turn out to be anywhere near the truth. A long enough sequence of random data will always produce apparently non-random results. In fact, this seems counterintuitive to most people. One way of picking fraudulent accounting practices is to look at the strings of numbers in question looking for the relative absence of, for example, runs of the same digit, or runs of consecutive digits. Only the best crooked accountants seem to know that avoiding such strings because they don't look "random" enough is a giveaway.

--Stathis Papaioannou

R. Miller wrote:
> Now, pick one:
> 1. All a Big Coincidence Proving Nothing (ABCPN)
> 2. The writer obviously was privy to state secrets
     and should have been arrested.
> 3. Suggests precognition of a very strange and weird sort.
> 4. Might fit a QM many worlds model and should be investigated further.
> 5. I have no clue how to even address something like this.
> Any takers?
I'll go for 1, all a big coincidence. Firstly, it should be taken
as the default hypothesis. Second, in my opinion no reliable evidence
has ever surfaced that points to precognition, or points to a science
theory that is an elaboration of QM/GR. In fact, numerous claims of
something new are regularly debunked by skeptics, and have picked up
the name (rightly, in my opinion) of pseudo-science.


Given a set of events that are impossible to reproduce (how can the writer re-create the basis for his story a second time?) we can only examine them after the fact in terms of probabilities. Even if we didn't go to a phonebook and look up the relative number of "Silards" or "Lenzes" vs the more common names, it's fairly obvious that the probabilities of this being a chance occurrence are on the order of one in tens of millions. Yet we write this kind of thing off as coincidence. The example I gave, (of course) is a real story titled "Blowups Happen" written by a real sci fi author--Robert Heinlein. Heinlein was asked about the coincidence, and he said he had no idea where he got the names or the idea. The story itself was *was* written in 1939---many years before the Manhattan District Project was even considered by anyone--and before Szilard began work on nukes and before Kistiakowski began work on his "lenses."

Most who have written about this focus on the fact that the story is about a "uranium bomb" at a site in the "Arizona desert." But when one gets into the minutiae is where it gets truly weird. Neither Heinlein in 1939-- nor most journalists who wrote about the coincidences since then--- were aware of the explosive lens issue, nor were they aware that most fission nukes have beryllium neutron reflectors. I'll suspect Heinlein chose the name Korzybski from a semi-famous semanticist from the 1920s and 30s named Alfred Korzybski. But to me, the other coincidences are just too weird to ignore.

LC writes:
In world war II, the FBI did question one man who published a story
involving atomic theory or atomic bombs that had some eerie similarities
to what was top secret. But they determined that it was just coincidence.
I'd be lying if I claimed to be unaffected by that report.

RM replies:
That would be the Clive Cartmill story "Deadline" which appeared in a 1944 issue of Astounding magazine. Actually, atomic bombs were accepted as a possibility since HG Wells' 1914 story "The World Set Free." INMO, the Cartmill story *is* coincidence. The Heinlein story is *truly* weird.


Sell your car for $9 on

Reply via email to