Geez, I'm not that dumb!

A post over at Church of Virus suggested that when I posted about super volcanoes that I was falling prey to a gamblers fallacy. I don't think that's correct. Here's the email reply I sent the poster:

To put the supervolcano into gambling terms, it's more like finding the ace of spades in a deck of cards. If each turn you get to pull a card and then discard it if it's not the ace of spades, then each turn that goes by, the higher your odds get of finally pulling that ace.

While it is true that ON AVERAGE every year has a 0.000001155 chance (I'm assuming your math is right), that's just the average. As I understand the geology, the odds of an eruption start low and go up slightly every year, which is what makes them go off "like clockwork" rather than with a more random distribution. Thus I am far more likely to see a supervolcano here than I would if I'd been born 500,000 years ago.

Or to give you another example, imagine a balloon. Blow it up to capacity and then deflate it. Then repeat. Then repeat. The first few times the odds of the balloon popping are slim. However, the more time that goes by, the greater the odds are of the balloon popping on that inflation cycle.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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