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it actually wouldn't take all that much evidence to convince us that, for example, "the numbers chosen in last night's lottery were 4, 2, 9, 7, 8 and 3." The correct response to this argument is to say that the prior probability of a miracle occurring is orders of magnitude smaller than mere one in a million odds.

That doesn't seem right. If somebody tries to convince me that the result of a fair 5 number lottery is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 I would have a much harder time believing it, but not because the probability is less then one in a million. I think the correct answer is that if the outcome of the lottery wasn't 4, 2, 9, 7, 8, 3 it is very unlikely anybody would try to convince me that the result was exactly that one.

[assume outcome is 4, 2, 9, 7, 8, 3]

Whereas P(outcome) is 1/1 000 000, P(outcome|they tell you the outcome is outcome) is much higher because P(they tell you the outcome is outcome|not outcome) is so much lower then P(they tell you the outcome is outcome|outcome)


Here are two articles quite skeptical of polyphasic sleep that might be of interest.

I don't necessarily agree with the author, but I guess it's good to be aware of arguments on both sides of the debate.


Jared Diamond, in Guns Germs and Steel, argues that when the time is ripe scientific discoveries are made quite regardless of who makes them, give or take a few decades. Most discoveries are incremental, and many are made by multiple people simultaneously. So wouldn't a discovery that isn't published be just made elsewhere in a few years time, possibly by someone without many ethical concerns?