Desert Bighorns in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
The day after Sarah posted a picture of David Byrne on A Pretty Ship, an interesting stochastic event happened. I have a workout playlist with 725 songs that I shuffle through as I workout. The Apple Corporation swears that their IPOD shuffles are truly random. That day I heard four David Byrne or Talking Heads songs in a row. I heard five of his songs, total, during my 45 minute workout. Less than five percent of the songs on the playlist are songs by that artist. The odds against that happening during any given workout are enormous. Of course, rational thinking would say that such an event has no particular meaning. Nevertheless, the human brain registers and pays attention to such coincidences.
Hunting tribes would sometimes use divination to determine which parts of their territories they would hunt in on a given day. For instance, one tribe would heat a scapula bone and then pour water on it to make it crack. They would use the pattern of cracks to determine where they would hunt on a given day. The ecological results were to randomize their hunting patterns. Animals have the ability to respond to statistical trends in the patterns of human hunters, even though the patterns are not the result of conscious decisions on the part of the hunters. The divination procedure allowed the hunting patterns of the tribe to be truly random. Hmmm…