Most of us can agree that the law of large numbers is basically true - that is, that as low-probability events are given enough chances to occur, they eventually will.

Skeptics use this as justification for dismissal of unusual events. Entering the discussion assuming something is impossible, the skeptic can just invoke the law of large numbers and walk away, mentally noting that it was merely a strange coincidence. Because if the paranormal explanation is assumed

*impossible*, then extremely low probability

*possible*explanations become attractive.

Proponents then accuse the skeptic of refusing to address the details of the case. I think that is a fair critique, since the law of large numbers adds no new information to the discussion of any particular case. In other words, it cannot be used to say what happened - it only says that a mundane explanation is

*not impossible*. And for the skeptic who assumes that all paranormal phenomena are impossible,

*not impossible*is a good enough probability. When a coincidental explanation is proven possible, it's 'case closed'.

Interestingly, if you assume a non-zero probability of psi, the law of large numbers works in proponents favor. For example, If the probability of a person experiencing psi on a given day is 1 in a trillion, then the law of large numbers says that psi

**will**occur to some people on some days. Of course, the low probability makes it hard to catch, hard to prove, and hard to study in a lab. It is only the skeptical assumption that psi does not exist (probability = zero) that leads to dismissal.

That being said, I don't see a clean way to apply any of this to the Captain Bob case, so I'm sorry if this is getting too far off topic.