Seeing Causes and Patterns Where They don’t Exist


Gavrilo Princip.  The name does not mean much to most Americans.  But Princip is often considered the man whose actions triggered the First World War.  Yet, causality in history is often illusory.  Randomness, luck – both good and bad, contingency, these are more likely to explain events in history than tightly written causal narratives with specific variables or villains.   Princip is a hero to some, a terrorist to others.  He’s a good example why the term “terrorism” is an inherently incoherent concept in scholarly work.  This brief article makes these points relatively clear:

It’s also the case that humans are not good at understanding that things like the “hot hand” in sports are also illusory.   What seems like a pattern is really just part of a larger distribution.  No Pattern Here


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