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How not to be fooled by randomness

We're the only species smart enough to think an octopus can be psychic

Faye Flam | Bloomberg 

There’s a common thread to the dubious claims and irreproducible results that have plagued some fields of science. In most of these cases, scientists saw illusory patterns in the randomness of our world. It’s the same error that led people to be captivated by an octopus named Paul who, in 2010, correctly predicted the outcomes of eight German World Cup matches. It might seem surprising that a cephalopod could make so many predictions from mere random guesses. But as statistician David Hand explains in his book “The Improbability Principle”, if enough people ask enough ...

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First Published: Sun, December 10 2017. 22:38 IST