Lightning Strikes Twice

The problem with weird coincidences is that they are often just that – coincidences. Although the human mind is a pattern-detection machine, trying to explain the forces behind truly unrelated events is a futile exercise. For example, Hope Arkansas is a small town of 17,000 people in the Midwest that boast two famous sons, who would probably have a pretty nasty rivalry if they were literally siblings:

The man from Hope: Former Arkansas Governor and US President Bill Clinton

Hope springs eternal with Former Arkansas Governor and perennial Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee

To explain why two famous individuals hail from the same hamlet, one would have to claim either (1) there was some preexisting reason why living in Hope AK makes one more likely to run for governor and president OR (2) once Bill Clinton ran (successfully), others in Hope hoped to follow in his footsteps. Neither of these explanations is compelling.

Sports are rife with weird coincidences. Consider the game of Baseball, in which a runner is out if 7.08(f) He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. This happens very rarely, and espeically rarely as the last out of a game. The most recent time a game ended that way was in 2010, until it happened twice on the same day in the same state:

There a 2430 regular season MLB games every year. The moral of the story is that there are many chances for weird things to happen. On the contrary, we should be surprised if NOTHING crazy occurs.

 UPDATE: In another great example of rare baseball occurrenes happening twice, the Colorado Rockies managed to strike out four times in the eighth inning two nights in a row. Four strikeouts in the same half-inning is possible if one reaches base via a dropped third-strike, which is more common than one might suppose. The Rockies racked up numbers 74 and 75.

Author: lnemzer

Associate Professor Nova Southeastern University

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