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Jun 26 2009

The “Rule” of Threes

This is not the post I intended to post today, but something happened that I could never anticipate would affect my blogging. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died. Even when it happened, I didn’t expect to blog about it. My reaction to both pieces of news was, “That’s a pity.” Then I moved on.

Eventually in my moving on, I got to Facebook, where I discovered that two celebrity deaths is not enough. One friend was “weirded out by the three celebrity icons that have passed away recently… Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson.” Then there was ” Wow….I know these things seem to happen in threes, but wow.” and “Hopefully Ed McMahon was recent enough to fulfill the law of threes…” and “It happens in threes. It happens in threes.”

I gave in. I wrote about it. You can find the results at Quiche Moraine.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Jason Thibeault

    Linked it at my blog, but since I plan on sending people from work to Quiche Moraine, I won't comment there. I'll just say it here — thank you, oh thank you so much. Selection bias and confirmation bias are brain-bugs, and ain't none of us are patched against it, no matter what training we give ourselves.

  2. 2
    Dan J

    I can tell you exactly why things like "luck" or "bad luck" always come in threes, but I can only tell you by way of this link: Three.

  3. 3
    Becca

    CURSES foiled again, Dan J beat me to it (let's hope somebody else comes up with it independently. If not, we'll have to forget about it).

  4. 4
    Stephanie Zvan

    Yeah, Becca, but now that you mentioned the idea, I'll have to watch the traffic closely to make sure nobody cheats.

  5. 5
    Dan J

    It's really funny that when I saw the "rule of threes" post, that song was the first thing that popped into my head. It's amazing how those things stick with us from childhood. I can still recall the lyrics to most of those things. Pretty scary actually.

  6. 6
    Stephanie Zvan

    I watched them all as a kid, but the ones I remember are the historical and grammatical ones. Go figure. :)

  7. 7
    Jason Thibeault

    I'll have to watch the traffic closelyAww. Me too, now. Dan went and embedded it in my linking-you post.Maybe I should scrub it and close comments so we can get a better idea of who saw it and is stealing the idea. (Of course, by extension, that puts the onus of log-watching on you. :) )

  8. 8
    Jodi

    Has anyone read Richard Dawkins' book 'Unweaving the Rainbow'? There is a whole chapter of goodness on things like this called 'Unweaving the Uncanny'. He starts off by describing a common television 'psychic' trick: making at-home viewers' watches stop. He then goes on to calculate the odds of this happening. After which he delves pretty deep into the phenomenon of the viewers expanding the window for 'hits' (the time frame in which the viewers attribute their watches stopping to the psychic). It's a great read and really opened my eyes to how often confirmation bias happens to all of us. A quote from the beginning of the chapter says it all: "What we need is less gasping and more thinking. This chapter is about how to take the sting out of coincidence by quietly sitting down and calculating the likelihood that it would have happened anyway. In the course of this, we shall discover that to disarm apparently uncanny coincidences is more interesting than gasping over them."

  9. 9
    Greg

    There was someone before MacMahon that we've forgotten already. Then MacMahon, Fawcett, Jackson, and now Malden. OMG, things come in sixes!!!!!!!

  10. 10
    Stephanie Zvan

    I think they probably come in 34s.

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