109-year-old Rose Cliver, the oldest survivor of San Francisco’s great earthquake, has recently died, leaving only two survivors of the event. The Huffington Post article of the event includes some great photos of the aftermath.
While a little off-topic for this blog, this is squarely on topic for my book, set in 1906 Los Angeles in the aftermath of the earthquake. The Azusa Street Revival, which launched the Pentecostal movement, began with a reasonably successful prediction on the front-page of the LA Times the morning of the earthquake.
Someone within the Azusa Street church saw the people of Los Angeles “flocking in a mighty stream to perdition” and saw “awful destruction to this city unless its citizens are brought to a belief in the tenets of the new faith.”
This was too cool an event to ignore, and I launched my story with this earthshaking and historic prediction.
Photo credit: Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
- Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey on Amazon.
This is how psychics and astrologers work as well. Throw a thousand predictions at a wall, and by sheer chance one of them will stick. Point to that one and ignore the other 999, and people will think you’re a genius or some such.
In a way, it’s like proving how good an archer you are by shooting an arrow into a wall, then painting the bullseye around it.
A good source for some of the many ways we fool ourselves (like the Sharpshooter Fallacy that you mention) is You are not so Smart.
If, as they say, God spanked this town
For being much too frisky,
Why did He burn His churches down
And save Hotaling’s Whiskey?
– An anonymous poem inspired by the quake and fire
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on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.
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