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Littlewood's Law of Miracles. Discuss.

I'll post my two cents later in the week.


Mar. 8th, 2005 03:18 am (UTC)
Personally, I think anyone who can "exactly define" what a "miracle" is or isn't has never actually experienced a miracle. Either that, or they're dumbing down the phenomena to include flowers bllowing in spring-time and babies being born and all that other "miracle of life" crap.

Statistically, I must be some sort of freak, because I've only had maybe two or three personal "miracles"* happen in my entire lifetime. I'm damned sure not getting my once-a-month quota.

(* "miracles in that something statiscally amazing happened to me. I have yet to witness any Divine phenomena such as a parting of the seas, or the resurrection of any dead people.)

Mar. 8th, 2005 03:35 am (UTC)
How is that dumbing it down? Isn't there something to be said for experiencing the sublime in the everyday?
Mar. 8th, 2005 03:44 am (UTC)
There is something to be said for "experiencing the sublime in the every-day"...but is that a MIRACLE? Does being able to appreciate the beauty of a flower blooming really equate to "wonders performed by supernatural power as signs of some special mission or gift and explicitly ascribed to God."?
Mar. 8th, 2005 04:02 am (UTC)
Well, I have no idea what Littlewood's Law of Miracles is, and I don't even have a good definition of a miracle, so I'm probably making a mistake posting in this thread at all.
I mean, of course, you're right, if you mean that a flower blooming is not at all comparable to sightings of the Virgin Mary or miraculous healings. It's just that I haven't experienced, and don't think I will experience, any true miracles. I guess I take what I can get, and other people do too, and that's why the lesser events are sometimes described as miracles.
Mar. 8th, 2005 04:11 am (UTC)
"He defined miracles precisely before stating his law about them.

He defined a miracle as an event that has special significance when it occurs, but occurs with a probability of one in a million. This definition agrees with our common-sense understanding of the word miracle .

Littlewood's Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month.

The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month.

With few exceptions, these events are not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month."
Mar. 8th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC)
Is this guy serious?

Mar. 8th, 2005 04:22 am (UTC)
He's a mathematician. I don't think they get any more serious than that.
Mar. 8th, 2005 04:26 am (UTC)
What business does a mathematician have with miracles? Even taking into account flowers blooming and babies being born, I don't think I experience a miracle a month.
Mar. 8th, 2005 04:46 am (UTC)
Interesting. I had never heard of Littlewood and his law of miracles before. I feel like I have experienced miracles before, but they only might seem like miracles to me. Maybe that's something I like about Littlewood's analysis of miracles - they are personal moments. Somehow I always feel like near-death experiences are somehow miracles - like it was a miracle I survived a certain near-miss car crash or something like that. But to others, a car crash is a statistic - something that just happens. Just some thoughts...I should be studying...
Mar. 8th, 2005 04:16 pm (UTC)
LOL Have you ever met an actuary? They're like accountants but without all that personality. They're mathematicians on steroids. LOL They are also the only math-related field that uses more math than I do (as a software engineer).

I saw a comparison of fields where software and physics tie for amount of math used, because in both fields the math is only one step out of many. For actuaries, almost every single step is a math step, except for the one where you actually eliminate the old people.
Mar. 8th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
Funny thing...most of the software engineers I've met (and that's not a lot, really, I'd say maybe four, now five, if I count you...) are really very dreamy people who seem to have a strong creative spark, even if they do phrase it in ways I can't comprehend. But it's still there.

I know two accountants. Both of them give me the impression of being vaguely vampiric. Not in any mysterious-creature-of-the-night sense, but in the sense that they're both cold, dead things who drain the vitality of all the living things around them.

Melodramatic, a bit, but, that was the impression I got. If actuaries are as bad as you say, I think I'll be quite content avoiding them, thank you.
Mar. 11th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
This definition of miracles is very, very general. It's just an event that's statistically very rare, not necessarily something that's religious or meaningful.

This includes things such as a piano falling on you, winning the lotto, and getting struck by lightening.


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Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu

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