I like this.
A common story is the one about having a dream or thought about the death of a friend or relative and then receiving a phone call five minutes later about the unexpected death of that very person.Oh my. It must be a sign. Proof of something bigger.
suppose that you know of 10 people a year who die and that you think about each of those people once a year. One year contains 105,120 five-minute intervals during which you might think about each of the 10 people, a probability of one out of 10,512--certainly an improbable event. Yet there are 295 million Americans. Assume, for the sake of our calculation, that they think like you. That makes 1/10,512 X 295,000,000 = 28,063 people a year, or 77 people a day for whom this improbable premonition becomes probable. With the well-known cognitive phenomenon of confirmation bias firmly in force (where we notice the hits and ignore the misses in support of our favorite beliefs), if just a couple of these people recount their miraculous tales in a public forum (next on Oprah!), the paranormal seems vindicated. In fact, they are merely demonstrating the laws of probability writ large.
This is exactly the same arguement I would use to debunk Creationist who try to say that 'The odds that the exact conditions existed in order for life to be created are so astronomically small that it couldn't possibly occur without an intelligent designer...'.
The universe is huge. How small minded would you be to believe that at any one moment in billions of year over the space of the entire universe, that any possible condition hasn't existed?
Sorry bout the little tangent there, just felt like venting for a minute.