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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Misunderstanding the "Law of Averages"

An article in this morning’s Boston Globe begins like this:
A Fung Wah bus, part of the low-fare passenger line fleet from Boston to New York, erupted in flames on an interstate highway in Connecticut yesterday, sending frightened passengers scrambling off the bus just moments before it became a “charred mess,” police and passengers said.
No one could have calculated the probability that this would happen. But...

The reporters interview “John Quackenbush, 38, a freelance film technician from Cambridge”:
Quackenbush, who uses the bus to commute between work locations, said this will not deter him from taking the bus again. In fact, it will have just the opposite effect, he said.

“What are the odds of this happening again?” he said. “Now I’m safe.”

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