Littlewood's Law states that individuals can expect a miracle to happen to them at the rate of about one per month.
The law was framed by Cambridge University Professor J. E. Littlewood, and published in a collection of his work, A Mathematician's Miscellany; it seeks (among other things) to debunk one element of supposed supernatural phenomenology and is related to the more general Law of Truly Large Numbers, which states that with a sample size large enough, any outrageous thing is likely to happen.
Littlewood's law, making certain suppositions, is explained as follows: a miracle is defined as an exceptional event of special significance occurring at a frequency of one in a million; during the hours in which a human is awake and alert, a human will experience one thing per second (for instance, seeing the computer screen, the keyboard, the mouse, the article, etc.); additionally, a human is alert for about eight hours per day; and as a result, a human will, in 35 days, have experienced, under these suppositions, 1,008,000 things. Accepting this definition of a miracle, one can be expected to observe one miraculous occurrence within the passing of every 35 consecutive days -- and therefore, according to this reasoning, seemingly miraculous events are actually commonplace.
References[edit | edit source]
- Littlewood's Miscellany, edited by B. Bollobás, Cambridge University Press; 1986. ISBN 0-521-33702-X
- Debunked! ESP, Telekinesis, Other Pseudoscience, Georges Charpak and Henri Broch, translated from the French by Bart K. Holland, Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7867-5