Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I've discussed this before, but I'd like to provide a couple of examples to illustrate the principle. Unbelievers allege that Christians succumb to sample-selection bias. When we appeal to miracles or answered prayer or fulfilled prophecy or archeological corroboration, we only count the hits and discount the misses. We conveniently forget the latter.

Now, in fairness, some Christians can be guilty of this. Take Christians who are straining to find God's will. Straining to detect divine signs. Likewise, many answered prayers are ambiguous in the sense that they could be naturally explicable. 

However, hits and misses are evidentially asymmetrical. For instance, consistently losing at the race track requires no special explanation, whereas consistently winning at the race track does require a special explanation. Consistently losing at the casino requires no special explanation whereas consistently winning does. 

So hits can be evidentially significant in a way that misses are not. It's to be expected that gamblers normally lose. There's an element of uncontrollable chance, and the odds are against you. If you consistently beat the odds, if you consistently outperform, that's suspicious. That implies cheating. 

By the same token, lack of evidence isn't equivalent to counterevidence unless there's a reasonable expectation that if something's the case, there should be corroborative evidence. Consider how many things you and I do in the course of an ordinary day for which there were never any records. 

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