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Good Things Happen in Threes

April 28, 2022

An old saying is: good things happen in threes. Or is it: bad things happen in threes? The exact expression doesn’t matter. A better statement is: random events happen in clusters. The result might be a one-dimensional random distribution, like you get by flipping a coin. Notice the runs of one side. The result might also be a two-dimensional random distribution, like you get by throwing darts at a sheet of paper. Notice the groups of holes. Patterns are normal in random distributions.

So, what does random mean? It’s a mathematical concept, meaning that past events do not affect the next event. In essence, the results are unpredictable. It’s not a natural phenomenon. The cause of each random event is unknown.

There’s the curious example of luminous insects on a cave ceiling: they glow like stars in the sky. Visitors call them random. In fact, the distribution is not random and is highly predictable. The insects space themselves out so as to be as far as possible from their insect neighbors. There are no patterns visible in this sky.

Of course, people do not like unpredictable events. Your mind seeks a cause for everything, even when there is no cause. People even invent a cause, just to have one.

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