Monday, March 31, 2014

Calendar August 2014

Here is an e-mail I received from a friend recently.  It’s pretty typical of the kind of information (and misinformation) that circulates daily in e-mails, tweets, Facebook and other sources both on and off the Internet.

Well, Feng Shui or not, this is wrong.  August has 31 days and whenever it starts on a Friday, it will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays.  Doesn’t it make sense that August has just as much of a chance of starting on a Friday as on any other day of the week?  That would be about 1 in 7, not 1 in 823.  This is crazy!

By checking a perpetual calendar it’s easy to see that August has started on a Friday 16 times since 1900.  It will happen this year and again in 2025, which is easily within the lifetime of most people.  This is not rocket science; it just requires a few minutes of research.

This is a harmless example of misinformation, but think about the other serious misinformation supposedly rooted in ancient Chinese wisdom or some other new-age authority, not harmless at all, misinformation about immunization, dietary supplements, genetic engineering, fluoridation of drinking water, paranormal events, get-rich-quick schemes, or quack remedies, misinformation about subjects that affect our health, safety, and financial security.  This is clearly not an all-inclusive list. 

That is why critical thinking is so important.

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