The problem of induction

After all the hullabaloo over budget airline carriers operating “old” planes, it was kind of inevitable – yet horrifying all the same – that the next transportation tragedy in Indonesia would involve Indonesia’s flagship carrier, Garuda, which operates planes less than 10 years old. So after proposing that planes with an age more than 10 years old be phased out, I wonder what idea the authorities are gonna come up with next? A blanket ban on flying perhaps? Just make us all use the roads (conveniently forgetting of course that 50,000 people are wiped out on Indonesia’s roads each year).

And then there were the floods in Jakarta. Self appointed experts – charlatans I call them – putting the blame on holiday villas in Bogor, the building of shopping malls, rubbish strewn rivers and God knows what else. As if the floods could simply have been averted. Playing God in hindsight.

But since then, floods have also swamped Ambon, parts of Kalimantan and West Timor of course, as well as Malaysia, Thailand and Aus. And it ain’t cos of bloody holiday villas. Or shopping malls. Or even dirty rivers. It’s cause there’s been a hell of a lot of rain. But no doubt the charlatans will find other suitable theories to explain the flooding in these places– without of course having an iota of scientific evidence to back up their hypotheses.

And it’s all very understandable really. Cos according to psychologists, humans will always tend to make causal relationships between two independent events even if such a link does not exist in reality.

This is why you read stuff like “Jogya earthquake triggered the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster”. Or perhaps “Democracy is the 'best tool' for beating terrorists”.

And even “Vitamins are good for you” (actually, they are also killing you, but there you go).

Cos in the real world things don’t necessarily happen cos they seem to make sense.

An example: 1) petrol is a highly inflammable liquid. 2) car engines get extremely hot.

Intuitively, then, we would expect cars to be prone to blowing up. But are they? Obviously not - cos when was the last time you saw a car explode on the highway?!!!


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