Friday, September 30, 2011

Wait, Travolta is Immortal Too?

According to various disreputable sources the world is secretly run by a cabal of powerful individuals with access to advanced spiritual and magical technology, such as the Philosopher's Stone that confers immortality. Recently actor Nicolas Cage was outed as a member of this secret society when a photo from 1870 emerged that appears to depict him. Now a second member has been identified - actor John Travolta, seen here in this photograph from 1860. This picture from Metro shows Travolta's face next to that of the man in the photograph, and actually it's a better match than the one of Cage.

The seller is asking for $50,000 for the ruby glass ambrotype photograph, which he says could be proof that John Travolta has been 'reincarnated' (not into a new being but an identical body, presumably).

'I believe this is the photograph of a very young John Travolta taken around 1860,' said the eBay seller. 'Of course, time travel can't be ruled out as well.'

Travolta is a highly-placed member of the Church of Scientology, the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard to protect his Dianetics system from the Food and Drug Administration and at the same time relieve its adherents of their life savings in the most efficient manner possible. However, the actor's presence in 1860 reveals deeper and darker connections. After all, there was no Church of Scientology in the 1860's, and if the group really had access to time travel they would have sent an agent back in time to murder the founders of Operation Clambake two decades ago. So perhaps he is in fact an operative secretly inserted by the ruling cabal into Hubbard's organization - you know, to keep an eye on things.

Joking aside, here's a question for magical practitioners. In a room full of thirty people what are the odds that two of them will have the same birthday? Common sense would suggest that it's unlikely, but in fact if you try it as an experiment in probability you will find that the odds are quite good. This is because you can't think about it as the odds that any one person will share a birthday with somebody else in the room (29 picks from 365 for odds of 12.5 to 1 against or .08). Rather, you have to weigh those odds for each possible pair in the group and add them together (which works out as 1 - (365!/335!)/(365^30) = .71). So the real chance of two people sharing a birthday in a room full of 30 people is around 70%, much more likely than most people initially guess.

This same principle is also applicable to these celebrity doppelganger photographs. If you pick out a celebrity and ask what the odds are that in the many thousands of nineteenth century photos there will be one that looks just like them, the odds will of course be low. But what's going on here is comparing two large pools of individuals ([people photographed in the nineteenth century] with [current celebrities]). That two relatively close matches have been found so far should not be seen as surprising in that light. Given the odds, there are likely to be more out there. Understanding these sorts of probability exercises is also important for evaluating the probability shifts produced by magical operations, since calculating the shift is pointless if you have the probabilities wrong to start with.

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PhoenixAngel said...

I love this post!!! Of course, it combines two of my favorite things: math and magick. Your post brings light to what can be reasonably expected. From my own experience, I know our our local group of pagans can have 2 sets of common birthdays in a meeting of about 15.

In my next incarnation I want to look like Angelina Jolie. I better get working on the magicks :)

Scott Stenwick said...

Thanks! A solid understanding of statistics is important in magical work, since in order to evaluate your results you need to be able to work out probabilities accurately.

Straight statistics would say that having two pairs in a group that size is less than 50% likely (it's closest to 50% with a group of 23), but in the real world more children tend to be born at certain times of the year. So birthdays around those times will produce more matches, which can skew the results.

Pumpkin Hoarder said...

I think I just sh*t Myself
From laughing so Hard !
although : "L.Ron Jr. talked extensively about his fathers involvement with with both U.S and U.S.S.R intelligence organizations"
The Whole thing started With Intelligence Gathering Experiments
To see How far a Human brain Could be Warped without reducing it to useless Mush.

Pumpkin Hoarder said...

Snow White . LSD was helpful in bringing about new ideas.

Frank Olsen