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Sep 24, 2008

coincidence? I think not

Is Israel just a small country, and the religious community just so interconnected, that such a thing makes sense? Or is it pure coincidence? Something else?


  1. I showed this link to my sister and commented that it's not so statistically unlikely, cos the dati leumi are the people who are walking around packing weapons.
    I thought i'd share her response: " Not only carry them but are not afraid to use them because they have a deep-seated sense of the justice of what they are doing. "

  2. Actually, it's not that much of a coincidence that they are all "connected". Had we determined ahead of time (without knowing details of the various heroes) a specific type of connection, such as being closer than first cousins or something (and then defined exactly what closer means), and then found all of them to be thus connected, I would agree. But a post facto analysis can find any kind of connection.

    In addition, since in these case, any connection works (we have three types here - family connection, school connection, and army connection), it's even more statistically probable that we'll find something. The next time, the connection may be that the hero is a next-door neighbor of one of the other guys, or used to copy homework from one of the other guys, etc. With the broad criterion of "connected," there are a seemingly infinite number of ways that people can be connected to one another.

    (If you don't like my reasoning, consider that I used to daven in the same small shul as "hirhurim", I'm friends with at least two of his regular guest posters, I used to carpool with "lifeinisrael", I sat together at a wedding and later became friends with hubscubs, I'm neighbors with and regularly go to shachrit with betweenjerusalemandtelaviv, and another to-be-unnamed-be-me Jblogger used to like my sister. OMG! It's a sign! How can we ignore it! Repent your ways, oh sinners, as the end is on nigh!)

    Another point to bear in mind is that people have a relatively small number of close relatives, so the Shapira/Plesser connection is indeed interesting. But teachers have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of students throughout their careers, and people serve in the army with hundreds of people (serving in the same tank would be a closer connection, but that's not the case here).

    One final point - they are not all connected to each other. There is a Shapira/Plesser connection, an Asa-el/Plesser connection, and an Amar/Shapira connection. But Shapira is not connected to Asa-el, Asa-el is not connected to Amar, and Amar is not connected to Plesser. So it's not a "direct, single degree-of-separation connections beween each of these four people". Each person is connected to one of the other heroes, but not to each of the other ones. A big difference, both statistically, and for whatever meaning someone wants to read into it.

    (The dati-leumi aspect is not so strange, since there are many dati people in Yerushalayim, and of those, charedim are generally not armed.)

    Cross-posted on muqata.blogspot.com

  3. yoni r. said:
    "I'm friends with at least two of his regular guest posters"

    you consider me your friend?
    you must be mixing me up with the other "anonymous" poster.

  4. yoni r.,

    Af al pi chen, it's still amazing, you'd have to admit.
    The points made in your comment were all known - and it's still a 1 in a million statistical improbability.

  5. Anon,

    I mean guests who write actual posts, not comments.


    Dave Barry once said that if you're going to lie on your income taxes, you shouldn't use round numbers, since they are obviously made up. The "1 in a million" odds you offer are obviouly made up by you. You should have said something like "3 in 632,273", then I might have thought that it was a real statistic, as opposed to something you made up to impress me.

  6. "1 in a million" was not made up by me - it's an expression. Google it if you never heard of it/don't believe me.

    I wasn't giving an actual statistical number - rather an idea that this was highly improbable.

  7. Yaak,

    I understood. I was just beeing cheeky.

    So to summarize what you said, even though you agree with me that it's not that big of a coincidence, and you recognize that I wasn't even making up novel reasoning why it's not that big of a coincidence, it's still a big coincidence.

    That's a one in a million line of reasoning!

  8. Yoni,

    Don't put words in my mouth.

    Nothing's a "coincidence". See the title of my post about it.

    If Hashem would have had all 4 killings performed by 4 brothers of the same family, for example, which would have been rediculously unbelieveable, people would have lost their behirat hofshit since all would have seen the miraculousness of it. Because they were done by related people, but related in different ways, Hashem keeps the behirat hofshit, while showing those who want to see - a true miracle.


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