William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

What Should Artists Do About Global Warming Contest

This is art.

This is art.

Picture shows artist Sarah Cameron Sunde, who stood in San Francisco Bay on Friday Aug. 15, 2014, “for a full cycle of tides, a more-than 13-hour process.

A more than 13-hour process!

Why did artist Sarah Cameron Sunde stand in San Francisco Bay “for a full cycle of tides”, which is “more-than 13-hour process”? You already know the answer. To turn the tide against global warming!

Come, wasn’t it brave of artist Sarah Cameron Sunde to stand in San Francisco Bay “for a full cycle of tides”, which is “more-than 13-hour process”? She called her art “36.5: A Durational Performance with the Sea.”

Artist Sarah Cameron Sunde stood in San Francisco Bay “for a full cycle of tides”, a “more-than 13-hour process”, to raise awareness about rising sea levels. Consider my awareness raised! For instance, I’m now aware that if the Pacific ocean keeps rising at the same alarming rate as now, then in three or four short centuries, residents might have to move their beach chairs an inch or two back from the shore, lest they get wet feet.

SF Gate reports artist Sarah Cameron Sunde’s final words: “I’m walking out – I hope I survive”.

She did. Survive, that is. But there was little doubt. Artist Sarah Cameron Sunde also stood around in the water for a day in Bass Harbor, Maine and Akumal, Mexico. She survived those, too. SF Bay is pretty cold, though. Her warming trick? “I pee in the wetsuit,” she said. Charming.

Now I don’t know about you, but this is what I call art. Don’t take my word for it. Writer Jennifer Herman, the paper reports, happened to walk by and noticed Sunde not doing anything, so she, Herman, “was inspired to sit down and write some prose.” Prose!

Great art should be inspirational, and while it’s true little could top artist Sarah Cameron Sunde’s “durational performance”, we still ought to try. We only have one planet! (Not counting the few billion which are slightly too far away to get to using today’s technology.)

Dear readers, what kind of art best conveys the true message of Global Warming?

Contest

Readers must describe, in 300 words or so, art which raises awareness of the true message of Global Warming. You have one week from today to do so.

Entries with vivid pictures will, of course, receive higher weight. As will those that are written in professional art talk. Look to any major museum or art installation for examples, or take your cue from artist Sarah Cameron Sunde, who managed to make standing around in the water for a few hours into a heroic sounding deed.

Yours Truly is the sole judge and jury. There will be no appeals. I may engage in favoritism.

The Booty

The winner will receive a Kindle copy of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein (due to be released November 13, 2014).

The winner must supply me his or her email one week after I announce his or her name. Look to this webpage for the announcement.

Pass It On

Readers will be doing the entire planet a service by passing this contest around to the widest extent possible. Use the buttons below to push the post to Facebook, Twitter, and other services. Or simply email it.

Come on, gang! We have a planet to save!

Bonus activity

In popular accounts, of course. Do try it. “The science is settled!” becomes “The politics are settled!” Have fun!

Philosophic Issues in Cosmology VI: Anthropic Coincidences—Guest Post by Bob Kurland

Something (which can be observed) rather than nothing (which cannot).

Something (which can be observed) rather than nothing (which cannot).

Bob Kurland is a retired, cranky, old physicist, and convert to Catholicism. He shows that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith.

Read Part V.

Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth – the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient “coincidences” and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. —Paul Davies.

The argument (the Anthropic Principle) can be used to explain why the conditions happen to be just right for the existence of (intelligent) life on the earth at the present time. For if they were not just right, then we should not have found ourselves to be here now, but somewhere else, at some other appropriate time. —Roger Penrose.

One doesn’t show that something doesn’t require explanation by pointing out that it is a condition of one’s existence. If I ask for an explanation of the fact that the air pressure in the transcontinental jet is close to that at sea level, it is no answer to point out that if it weren’t, I’d be dead. —Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos.

A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. —Fred Hoyle

10,000 dials & monkeys

The presence of organic life in the universe (namely us) requires a series of unlikely happenings and restricted values for physical laws and constants. This “fine-tuning” (as it’s been called) has been likened to a room full of 10,000 dials, each of which has to be set to a precise setting in order to achieve action; 10,000 monkeys are let into the room and each adjusts a dial and, lo, action occurs. The set of coincidences was termed “The Anthropic Principle” by Brandon Carter in 1973, when he introduced it in a conference to oppose the “Copernican Principle”, that man has no special place in the universe.

Anthropic Principle

There is a concise summary of the Anthropic Principle by Robert Koons in his philosophy lectures, giving various interpretations, with arguments for and against each. A good collection of articles with different (and opposing views) of the Anthropic Principle is given in God and Design (ed. Neil Manson). There are many versions of the Anthropic Principle ranging from the Weak Anthropic Principle, WAP, which tautologically observes that if the universe weren’t fit for us to be here we would wouldn’t be here discussing the principle, through the Strong Anthropic Principle, SAP, that the universe has been fine-tuned for intelligent life (us), on up to the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (by Martin Gardner—you complete the acronym).

Can unlikelihood be quantified?

In assessing the improbable nature of the anthropic coincidences, some authors assign a specific probability to the value of some particular physical constant. Such assignment is not always justified, because probability considerations are ill defined, in the usual sense of evidential probability. For example, theoretical calculations have shown that if the strong nuclear force were 2% higher or 2% lower, then the elements as we know them would not have been formed. This does not mean that the probability of having the strong nuclear force at an anthropic value is 4%. In order to give a probability for this range, the population distribution of the parameters for the strong nuclear force would have to be known. Moreover, there is a difficulty in using probability in an after-the-fact, rather than a predictive sense. The way to use probabilities in assessing the anthropic coincidences is via Bayesian probability techniques, with well-defined prior assumptions, and to use the resulting Bayesian probability as a measure of belief.

Ellis’s interpretation

Ellis, in his presentation of the anthropic coincidences, focuses on the special nature of physical laws that allow for the presence of life, rather than on their improbability:

One of the most profound issues in cosmology is the Anthropic question…why does the Universe has the very special nature required in order that life can exist? The point is that a great deal of “fine tuning” is required in order that life be possible. There are many relationships embedded in physical laws that are not explained by physics, but are required for life to be possible; in particular various fundamental constants are highly constrained in their values if life as we know it is to exist…What requires explanation is why the laws of physics are such as to allow this complex functionality (life) to work..We can conceive of universes where the laws of physics (and so of chemistry) were different than in ours. Almost any change in these laws will prevent life as we know it from functioning.

Ellis posits as a first requirement for the laws of physics “the kind of regularities that can underlie the existence of life”: laws that are not based on symmetry and variational principles are unlikely to produce the kind of complexity that would be required for life. He also sets up general conditions that allow for organic life and cosmological boundary/initial conditions. In this respect he cites the following as necessary:

  • “Quantization that stabilizes matter and allows chemistry to exist through the Pauli exclusion principle;
  • The number D of large spatial dimensions must be just 3 for complexity to exist.
  • The seeds in the early universe for fluctuations (quantum fluctuations) that will later grow into galaxies must be of the right size that structures form without collapsing into black holes…
  • The size of the universe and its age must be large enough…we need a sufficiently old universe for second generation stars to come into existence and then for planets to have a stable life for long enough that evolution could lead to the emergence of intelligent life. Thus the universe must be at about 15 billion years old for life to exist.
  • There must be non-interference with local systems. The concept of locality is fundamental, allowing local systems to function effectively independently of the detailed structure of the rest of the Universe. We need the universe and the galaxies in it to be largely empty, and gravitational waves and tidal forces to be weak enough, so that local systems can function in a largely isolated way.
  • The existence of the arrow of time, and of laws like the second law of thermodynamics, are probably necessary for evolution and for consciousness. This depends on boundary conditions at the beginning and end of the Universe.
  • Presumably the emergence of a classical era out of a quantum state is required. The very early universe would be a domain where quantum physics would dominate leading to complete uncertainty and an inability to predict the consequence of any initial situation; we need this to evolve to a state where classical physics leads to the properties of regularity and predictability that allow order to emerge.
  • The fact that the night sky is dark…is a consequence of the expansion of the universe together with the photon (light particle) to baryon (mass particle) ratio. This feature is a necessary condition for the existence of life: the biosphere on Earth functions by disposing of waste energy to the heat sink of the dark night sky. Thus one way of explaining why the sky is observed to be dark at night is that if this were not so, we would not be here to observe it.
  • Physical conditions on planets must be a in a quasi-equilibrium state for long enough to allow the delicate balances that enable our existence, through the very slow process of evolution, to be fulfilled.” (see the Theology of Water.)

There are a number of other constraints, limited values for forces—gravity, electromagnetic, weak nuclear, strong nuclear—and fundamental constants, including that for particle masses and number of particles that are needed for life to evolve. In summary, Ellis puts the Anthropic Principle as the following:

Life is possible because both the laws of physics and the boundary conditions for the universe have a very special nature. only particular laws of physics, and particular initial conditions in the Universe, allow the existence of intelligent life of the kind we know. No evolutionary process whatever is possible for any kind of life if these laws and conditions do not have this restricted form.

Robert Koons summarizes some general objections to invoking the Anthropic Principle for carbon-based life “well isn’t that special” (as the Church Lady might say):

  1. The problem of “old evidence”;
  2. Laws of nature don’t need to be explained;
  3. We had to be here in any event (see Penrose’s quote above);
  4. Exotic life might exist;
  5. The Copernican Principle–rejection of anthropocentricity is fundamental to science;
  6. We’re only one among many universes (see below).

Then:

  1. Objection 1 can be countered by the argument that such evidence is used frequently in science when direct experiments can’t be done. Witness the General Relativity explanation of the advance in the perihelion of Mercury.
  2. Objection 2 would do away with all interpretations of theory, quantum mechanics, and the philosophy of science.
  3. Objection 3 is countered as in Thomas Nagel’s quote above; as information seeking life form we need explanations.
  4. Objection 4 is invalid: we’re talking about conditions for carbon-based life; science-fiction can explore and has explored conditions for exotic life.
  5. Objection 5: the Anthropic Principle was introduced to rebut the Copernican Principle.
  6. Objection 6: the multiverse proposition is not itself proven.

The philosophic/metaphysical context for these Anthropic conditions that Ellis sets forth will be given in the final post. It should be noted that one interpretation of anthropic coincidences is the theory that infinitely many universes with potentially different physical laws and constants exist and so it is not unlikely that in all these one universe with appropriate conditions for life would be present.

The analogy is like that of having a lottery ticket with the numbers 1 1 1 1 1 be the winner. That combination of numbers looks improbable, but since there are a whole host of numbers from 00000 to 99999, it is no less probable than any other number. This brings up the notion of a multiverse, which will be discussed in the next post.

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Is Not Made Of Matter

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

A relatively simple argument today. God is not made of stuff. Who would disagree? Pagans, perhaps. For example, the god of the atheists is a demiurge, a sort of superior created or “evolved” being, and therefore made of matter. But not God. What’s nifty about today’s discussion is the role of “chance”. For that, we turn back (again) to Aristotle.

Chapter 17: That in God there is no matter

1 FROM this it follows that God is not matter.i

2 For matter, such as it is, is in potentiality.ii

3 Again. Matter is not a principle of activity: wherefore, as the Philosopher puts it,[1] efficient and material causes do not coincide. Now, as stated above,[2] it belongs to God to be the first efficient cause of things. Therefore He is not matter.iii

4 Moreover. For those who referred all things to matter as their first cause, it followed that natural things exist by chance: and against these it is argued in 2 Phys.[3] Therefore if God, Who is the first cause, is the material cause of things, it follows that all things exist by chance.iv

5 Further. Matter does not become the cause of an actual thing, except by being altered and changed. Therefore if God is immovable, as proved above,[4] He can nowise be a cause of things as their matter.v

6 The Catholic faith professes this truth, asserting that God created all things not out of His substance, but out of nothing.vi

7 The ravings of David of Dinant are hereby confounded,vii who dared to assert that God is the same as primary matter, because if they were not the same, they would needs differ by certain differences, and thus they would not be simple: since in that which differs from another thing by a difference, the very difference argues composition.

Now this proceeded from his ignorance of the distinction between difference and diversity. For as laid down in 10 Metaph.[5] a thing is said to be different in relation to something, because whatever is different, differs by something, whereas things are said to be diverse absolutely from the fact that they are not the same thing.[6]

Accordingly we must seek for a difference in things which have something in common, for we have to point to something in them whereby they differ: thus two species have a common genus, wherefore they must needs be distinguished by differences. But in those things which have nothing in common, we have not to seek in what they differ, for they are diverse by themselves. For thus are opposite differences distinguished from one another, because they do not participate in a genus as a part of their essence: and consequently we must not ask in what they differ, for they are diversified by their very selves. Thus too, God and primary matter are distinguished, since, the one being pure act and the other pure potentiality, they have nothing in common.

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iFrom last time, of course.

iiMatter can change, thus it is in potentiality, and we have seen from last time that God is not in potentiality.

iiiThis doesn’t appear controversial, but we have scarcely outlined the nature of cause. There are four kinds of cause: the formal (the form of the thing), material (what the thing is made of), efficient (what brings about the change), and final (the end or direction of the change). The material of the statue, say, is not its efficient cause. Much more on this later.

ivWe are now at Yours Truly’s favorite material. Aristotle (from 2 Phys iv):

Some people even question whether [chance and spontaneity] are real or not. They say that nothing happens by chance, but that everything which we ascribe to chance or spontaneity has some definite cause, e.g. coming ‘by chance’ into the market and finding there a man whom one wanted but did not expect to meet is due to one’s wish to go and buy in the market.

Similarly in other cases of chance it is always possible, they maintain, to find something which is the cause; but not chance, for if chance were real, it would seem strange indeed, and the question might be raised, why on earth none of the wise men of old in speaking of the causes of generation and decay took account of chance; whence it would seem that they too did not believe that anything is by chance…

There are some too who ascribe this heavenly sphere and all the worlds to spontaneity. They say that the vortex arose spontaneously, i.e. the motion that separated and arranged in its present order all that exists. This statement might well cause surprise.

For they are asserting that chance is not responsible for the existence or generation of animals and plants, nature or mind or something of the kind being the cause of them (for it is not any chance thing that comes from a given seed but an olive from one kind and a man from another); and yet at the same time they assert that the heavenly sphere and the divinest of visible things arose spontaneously, having no such cause as is assigned to animals and plants.

Yet if this is so, it is a fact which deserves to be dwelt upon, and something might well have been said about it. For besides the other absurdities of the statement, it is the more absurd that people should make it when they see nothing coming to be spontaneously in the heavens, but much happening by chance among the things which as they say are not due to chance; whereas we should have expected exactly the opposite.

Others there are who, indeed, believe that chance is a cause, but that it is inscrutable to human intelligence, as being a divine thing and full of mystery.

Aristotle says things which are for the sake of something can be caused by chance, and he gives this example (2 Phys v):

A man is engaged in collecting subscriptions for a feast. He would have gone to such and such a place for the purpose of getting the money, if he had known. [But he] actually went there for another purpose and it was only incidentally that he got his money by going there; and this was not due to the fact that he went there as a rule or necessarily, nor is the end effected (getting the money) a cause present in himself — it belongs to the class of things that are intentional and the result of intelligent deliberation. It is when these conditions are satisfied that the man is said to have gone ‘by chance’. If he had gone of deliberate purpose and for the sake of this — if he always or normally went there when he was collecting payments — he would not be said to have gone ‘by chance’.

Notice that chance here is not an ontological (material) thing or force, but a description or a statement of our understanding (of a cause). Aristotle concludes, “It is clear then that chance is an incidental cause in the sphere of those actions for the sake of something which involve purpose. Intelligent reflection, then, and chance are in the same sphere, for purpose implies intelligent reflection.”

And “Things do, in a way, occur by chance, for they occur incidentally and chance is an incidental cause. But strictly it is not the cause — without qualification — of anything; for instance, a housebuilder is the cause of a house; incidentally, a fluteplayer may be so.”

Chance used this way is like the way we use coincidence. But there is also spontaneity, which is similar: “The stone that struck the man did not fall for the purpose of striking him; therefore it fell spontaneously, because it might have fallen by the action of an agent and for the purpose of striking.”

Lastly, “Now since nothing which is incidental is prior to what is per se, it is clear that no incidental cause can be prior to a cause per se. Spontaneity and chance, therefore, are posterior to intelligence and nature. Hence, however true it may be that the heavens are due to spontaneity, it will still be true that intelligence and nature will be prior causes of this All and of many things in it besides.”

vIn short, since God is not movable, he can’t be made of matter, which is always movable.

viSuch a misunderstood word, nothing! It means just what it says. No thing. No fields, no forces, no fields, no equations, no quantum thises or thats, the absence of all entities. Now just you imagine what kind of Being could create something about of this real nothing. Only one: Being itself, I Am That I Am; which is to say, God.

viiZing! More proof that even saints can be contemptuous when the need arises. Notice very carefully that St Thomas does not ask for dialogue with David of Dinant, but is satisfied to destroy his argument.

[1] 2 Phys. vii. 3.
[2] Ch. xiii.
[3] Chs. viii., ix.
[4] Ch. xiii.
[5] D. 9, iii. 6.
[6] Sum. Th. P. I., Q. iii., A. 8, ad 3.

Ask A Scientific Ethicist: Baby Making, Auto Mishap, ISIS Attacks

The Scientific Ethicist, PhD

The Scientific Ethicist, PhD

This was supposed to run this morning. No idea why it didn’t.

This week, three letters from concerned readers.

Too many babies

Dear Scientific Ethicist,

Hopefully this subject matter isn’t too technical for your audience.

In a recent discussion with my boss, I claimed that it was impossible for nine women to make a baby in one month. My boss claimed that with proper planning, nine women could indeed have a baby a month for nine months.

Which one of us is correct? No pressure intended, but I think my job might be dependent on your answer.

Thanks,

Milton

Dear Milton,

Your boss is right. Nine (biological) women could, with appropriate planning, have one baby each, one per month spaced equally over nine months.

And you’re wrong. Nine women could indeed make one baby in one month. As long as they had access to an egg from any one of them, certain male genetic material, which Science shows can be had any old place, and some rather sophisticated medical equipment (made by Science!). The baby could be made—and in well under one month, at that—and implanted in any of the women. This isn’t the best, safest, surest, or recommended method—it’s too easy to kill the baby because creation and implantation—but the thing can be done.

Of course, Science tells us that baby would take approximately nine months to emerge from its mother. But that’s birth, and not the making of it.

Unfortunately, Science disagrees with you. But if it’s any consolation, Science disagrees with a lot of people!

The Scientific Ethicist

Automotive mishap

Dear Scientific Ethicist,

I was driving down the road and saw a car crash into a parked car, then drive away without leaving a note. There was just a little damage on the parked car. I took down the the licence plate number of the car that drove off, but it was being driven by a young ethnic woman, and I don’t want to be a racist. What should I do in this situation?

[Name Withheld], Atlanta, GA

Dear [Name Withheld],

The force between an average car going at typical speeds (in the neighborhood of 30 MPH) hitting a stationary average car is easily calculated. We call this momentum, the mass of the car multiplied by its velocity. In many cases, we can speak of the momentum as a single variable instead of trying to keep track of multiple measures.

If both cars were moving, then depending on the directions both cars were traveling, there could have been at the time of contact anything from very little momentum, to something quite high. But since one car was not moving, the momentum probably wasn’t large.

Low momentum impacts produce notably less damage than high momentum impacts. That you say “just a little damage” indicates that this was probably a low momentum impact.

Once again, Science gives the answer!

The Scientific Ethicist

Take that man

Dear Scientific Ethicist,

I live in Al Bukamal, Syria. The Islamic State is practically out the back door. They’re beheading non-Muslims, burying children alive for not being Muslims, and many other terrible things. And they’re boasting of it! Oosting pictures of it on the web. The terror endless. I’m starting to panic. What should I do to stay calm?

Billy, San Francisco

Dear Billy,

Only the consolations of Science can have any effect. I usually recommend reading Introduction to Topology by Bert Mendelson, or Inorganic Chemistry by Gary Wulfsberg. Though in your case, nothing is better suited than Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.

In that book, Greene highlights the Science of the multiverse. The gist is that there are an infinite number of other universes where you also exist and where the Islamic State is benign. Why, there’s even a universe in which each member of ISIS is a Good Humor man handing out free ice cream to children over-heated by the desert! In none of these other happy universes would you feel terror.

Science can calm the most troubled soul!

The Scientific Ethicist

Send in your questions to the Scientific Ethicist today! Or read his previous columns.

It Makes No Sense To Say You’re More Likely To Die Of Bee Sting Than Shark Bite

"Tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are. Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies."

“Tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are. Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”

The National Journal says: “The odds of being killed by a shark are about 1 in 3.7 million. The odds of being killed by a sting from a bee, wasp, or hornet are 1 in 79,842, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Now you see these kinds of stories all the time, all of which have conclusions like You have a better chance of dying in a lightning strike than in winning the lottery, etc., etc.

These stories are all wet. Nobody has a chance of dying in a lightning strike, just as nobody has a chance of winning the lottery or being killed by stinging sharks or biting wasps. By which I mean, everybody has a chance of winning the lottery or being stung by lightning or whatever.

Double talk? The problem is chance, a nebulous word, apt to change shape mid-sentence so that you don’t always end up where you were aiming.

In one version, chance means logical possibility. Everybody has the logical possibility of dying by shark, bee, or lightning. But chance also connotes probability. And there just is no unconditional probability of dying by anything.

Logical possibility is a weak criterion. Anything that isn’t logically impossible, such as square circles, is logically possible. You might be a native Antarctican, solid ice your bed and fluffy snow your pillow since birth. But, one day, an evil Polar Vortex might surreptitiously search the seas for your doom, and fling a hammerhead shark from the tropics to the very spot on which you take your morning ice floe stroll, as was illustrated in the documentary Sharknado.

Hey, it could happen. It’s logically possible. And in that sense you have a chance of dying by shark bite.

But you don’t have an unconditional probability of dying by one. What can we say? If the probability of you being eaten by a shark were 0, then it would be impossible, logically impossible, that you could be eaten by a shark. But we’ve already agreed that it is logically possible. And if your probability is 1, then that means the universe guarantees, no matter what, you will have your head bit off. Ouch.

This means the probability of you dying by shark bite, without knowing anything else about you (and I mean this clause just as it’s written), is no number at all, but all numbers between 0 and 1. Which is fairly useless, as far as information goes, But not entirely unless since non-extreme probability tells us a event is contingent, i.e. logically possible.

We can now see that it makes no sense to say the unconditional probability of dying by a bee sting is “larger” than of suffering the consequences of a sharknado. These probabilities, in the absence of any other information, are equal.

What “other information”? Example: your aunt Narantsetseg lives in central Mongolia, far from the sea and inland aquariums, whilst you live in Key Largo in a beach shack. Given only this information, which includes common knowledge about these locations and their nearness to sharks, it’s natural to say you have a larger probability of dying of shark bite than your aunt.

How much larger? We don’t know. There’s still not enough information to quantify the difference. Why? All probability is conditional on the information supplied. If that information is vague, as it is in the maximal sense when we know noting other than the event in logically possible, no quantification is possible. To get numbers, we need specific information.

Enter the the Frequentist Fallacy. Happens like this. American citizens killed by shark bites are divided by the population, and this number is substituted for the probability of you yourself dying from shark bite. This “probability” is assigned to beach dwellers and Norther Michiganders alike. Which is silly, because, obviously, the information for these folks is radically different, and thus so are their (conditional) probabilities.

So is dying of a bee or wasp sting more probable than by shark bite? We now see that it makes no sense to ask this. If you can’t swim and are allergic to bee stings and live next to an apiary, then it’s more likely you’ll die from a sting than a shark bite. But if you live in Key West and go snorkeling daily and aren’t allergic to bees, it’s more likely you’ll die inside the innards of a shark.

How much more likely (in either case) we can’t say.

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Thanks to Brad Tittle for suggesting this topic.

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