The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

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I miss when YANSS did actual blog posts.

I can always find the time to read a few pages of text, but it’s a lot more hassle for me to download a podcast and find time to listen to it.

And I loved reading it. It was entertaining, it was enlightening, and it really made me think about how my own mind worked. If there were transcripts of the podcasts, I would read every single one of them.

Sadly, if said transcripts exists, I am unable to find them, so I must go without.


Loosely on topic I made a Processing sketch that finds equilateral triangles in randomly wandering points.

Try the slider to allow slightly wonkier ‘equilateral’ triangles in.



  • Many of the more famous incidents happened outside of the “official” bounds of the triangle. You’d have to expand it to cover most of the North Atlantic to include them.

  • It’s in Hurricane and tropical storm territory.

  • It’s in what was modern-day piracy territory at the time of many of the stories.


A man carries a can of red paint and a single paint brush, yet paints both white and red paint on the building.

Must be a predictable malfunction of my normal human mind to wonder how he did it…


Also add:

  • Bermuda itself is surrounded by hazardous coral reefs so it’s hardly surprising that they’d also be home to a large number of shipwrecks. They even have a shipwreck on their flag, for crying out loud.


It’s actually part of a much larger formation known as The Bermuda Shorts.


This a thousand times over. I read very very quickly, podcasters talk very very slowly. Podcasts=waste of my time.


Podcasts only waste my time if I listen to them. Which I don’t, anymore.

If podcasters have any interest in communicating with me, they’ll provide (or point me toward) transcripts. Which they don’t, anymore.


I’m one who definitely would rather read it than listen to a podcast (I simply don’t listen to the podcasts). But different people have different preferred communication styles. I think we live in a world where communication is heavily oriented toward the visual. And probably most of the people here on the bbs are highly comfortable with reading. So my frustration at not being able to experience this information in my preferred way reminds me that a certain percentage of other humans experience this kind of frustration every day, the other way around.

Also, I wonder if people listen to podcasts while commuting in cars. That might be a good use for them. (Not having a car, I don’t have experience in that area.)

I do think that listening to something in an author’s own voice can sometimes give me a better idea of what they meant than if it’s just me voicing it to myself (silently) in my own head, because I might not be voicing it in quite the way they meant it.


Podcasts (or radio plays) just don’t hold my attention. I try to listen and inevitably get distracted and start reading something. Driving is probably the only thing where what I hear sticks. Not sure what that says about how much attention I pay when I’m driving…


I have to be doing something in order to take in audible information. Working in a warehouse or doodling also worked for me - you can use the visual input to create a kind of memory palace.


Plus there’s all them sea ghosts.

Re: podcast transcripts, YANNS is great background noise for when you’re pacing around or doing chores or taking a bath or anything else that requires hands or varying levels of attention. I’ve got a job that involves sitting in a chair and reading things all day, and it’s great for when I’m taking a break from that. Transcripts would be nice, but it’s not just an issue of people who don’t like to read vs. the rest of us.


Oddly, the motto of the City of Paris is “Fluctuat nec mergitur” (tossed [by the waves] but not sunk), whereas Paris is quite a long way inland.

…on topic: this fallacy is why nowadays physics experiments require 5 sigma significance before a result can be claimed. Many earlier experimental results, such as the size of Pluto, would have failed such a test, and irt would never have been listed as a planet. (Actually so would Eddington’s demonstration of relativistic light bending, but let’s not go there.) It is a bit like Terry Pratchett’s [I think] joke about million to one chances coming up nine times out of ten.

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Snap. I used to cover notebooks with doodles in lectures and boring meetings. If you’re fairly visual, I think this is quite common.


especially if you’re listening to The Memory Palace (no, seriously, it’s a fantastic podcast, and is great doodling background/inspiration)

That’s the thing I miss most about college. Regular opportunities to doodle during interesting lectures. Definitely some of my best, and most unexpected drawings came out of those sessions. If I just sit in front of a blank piece of paper with my full attention, I get totally paralyzed by decision-making. And if I don’t doodle, I’ll yawn through the lecture. I doodle now during staff meetings, but the material isn’t nearly as stimulating.


Welcome To Night Vale is the only podcast I could ever get into, and even then sometimes my attention just wanders away. Audiobooks when I’m on a long trip are fine for keeping me awake, though.

Podcasts, and videos that don’t actually visually demonstrate anything useful, annoy me. There are the inevitable bumpers, intros, filler and general slowness. Bleh.



I’m the same way with static websites vs. videos. If I’m looking for a particular bit of information, YouTube videos are not my first choice. Usually not my second choice, either.


Here’s a great read for those interested in The Texas Sharp Shooter, and other common fallacies. It’s one of the few university textbooks I still keep on my bookshelf.

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Isn’t that kind of a central flaw in the big-data business model (and especially the big data terrorist hunting model)?

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