PROBABLY PINING FOR THE FJORDS
When Sutton cannot disprove his tree network, he has to conclude it existed, but all he has achieved is to jump between stepping stones set within the complicated mire of historical detail. Only by making a huge presumption, that the reason for instances of a phrase to reappear must be connected in their source, can Sutton move from one to the next. But, and here is the crux: in doing so, he has presumed causality. Like, presuming a dead parrot is really just, “Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords”.
How Many Coincidences Sum to the Point Where They Render the Defence of Multiple Coincidence Totally Implausible?
Apologies for this obvious bit; just making sure everybody’s with us…
WHAT’S THE LIKELIHOOD?
The likelihood that something happened through a chain of causation is expressed in terms of probability. Probability values run from zero to one, equivalently, 0% to 100%. You’ll remember that the side a coin lands is a chance event, with equal probability of 1/2 = 0.5 = 50% for either side. Although science is always revising what counts as the threshold for being confident in having identified the correct causal agent, historically it has been 95%, up to 99% and sometimes more: i.e., that’s how much confidence science needs to have to accept information as knowledge. This is why chance events cannot be predicted scientifically. Which side up will this coin land? I do not know, I have no expectation, it is impossible to say, I can only guess knowing that I have, roughly, a 1 in 2 chance of getting it correct. What will the weather be like tomorrow? Ah, well I’ve got masses of information about today, and what the day after days like today have been in the past, so I can make a more informed estimate of an outcome. There! That’s science: assimilate data from careful and accurate observation, construct a model (even saying there’s a 50:50 chance of a certain outcome is still a model: a binomial model). What this means for Sutton’s question about “How many coincidences…” can be looked at in two ways, probabilistically and metaphysically.
NOBODY EXPECTSNow, old lady — you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly — *two* last chances. And you shall be free — *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.Cardinal XiminezEven at our most tolerant level of acceptance, the room for an outcome occurring by chance alone is 1.00 – 0.95 = 0.05 = 5%. So, the literal answer to Sutton’s unscientific question, “How Many Coincidences Sum to the Point Where They Render the Defence of Multiple Coincidence Totally Implausible?” is 95 / 5 = 19. But this assumes that the entity whose existence is in question, is the product of all of those events, no fewer, no more, and all 19 are coexisting simultaneously, having come about entirely independent of each other.In terms of Sutton’s “information contamination pathways” transferring Matthew’s ideas to Darwin, this means for that estimated likelihood, each pathway cannot overlap, by their sharing individual naturalists. If they do, as he has in the schema he proposes, then for each overlap, the likelihood of the overlapping pathways will in some way be pooled, increasing their likelihood overall.“WHAT!”, I hear you cry, “You’ve just argued that there’s more chance the pathways existed”. Well, no. It’s a counterintuitive logic, but remember, we’re calculating the probability in terms of the pathways arising by chance alone. We can derive the probability of one, independent pathway, occurring by accident directly from the probability of it not occurring by accident, i.e., by subtracting the latter value from one, as above, 1.00 – 0.95 = 0.05. But, when pathways become interdependent, we suddenly don’t know what number to subtract the new, pooled value from, because the probability will be redistributed unequally across all the interconnected pathways. The deciding factor then is the influence of each node where the pathways join.Think of this like a network of waterways, if the resistance to flow is lower, i.e., because one of the directions leads downhill from that point, then the water will flow that way. Similarly, if one naturalist, shared across pathways, is more likely to communicate information about Matthew’s evolution mechanism with one other naturalist, more than any other that they are in contact with, then the information will be passed towards its destination, in that direction, because it has least resistance to the flow.
THE SCIENCEY BITApologies, again, for this basic, but necessary revision in calculating chance. If the explanation above wasn’t clear enough, then this section should help. Mathematically, coincidence is dealt with as the multiplicativity of events. Two sixes rolled on a dice one after the other is 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/36. Rolling any number in succession introduces alternatives, which will improve the chances of any one event occurring. Thus, the additive possibility of getting a sequence of two rolls of the same number, two 1’s, OR two 2’s, OR, two 3’s, etc., each with the same, 1 in 36 chance of occurring, is the sum of their individual probabilities, 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36…, etc. giving 6/36, also 1/6.
DON’T POINT THAT MOOT AT ME, MORIARTY!
By mooting, “How Many Coincidences Sum to the Point Where They Render the Defence of Multiple Coincidence Totally Implausible?“, Sutton is suggesting that there’s a certain threshold in coincidence as the potential of an event occurring, that translates directly into reality. He probably has in mind an accumulation of events, such as, 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36…, etc., but this is wrong on two counts: philosophically and probabilistically. First, it’s not possible, according to the consistent effects of our Universe’s physical laws, for random events to suddenly transform into caused outcomes, as a density-dependent response. Instead each of Sutton’s ‘tree network’ connections must be established independently, always starting with the hypothetical proposition that it does not exist. If this is not the null hypothesis starting point, and you start by assuming a connection does exist, how are you going to know you did not disprove it, by finding no evidence because there isn’t any, or finding no evidence because you didn’t look in the correct places? (remember the green and blue balls? Same thing; some natural and artificial patterns are too alike to distinguish which is which).