# The Power of Psychics Explained in One Graph

(via the amazing Jessica Hagy)

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

• Travis Myers

I’m sorry, but Jessica Hagy really does not understand how graphs work.

• Highlander

How so? A Cartesian graph shows relationships between two or more things, this one shows the relationship between psychic powers and lottery winnings, specifically how those who claim psychic powers don’t seem to have any advantage when it comes to winning the lottery, which is something you would expect them to have if their “powers” were real.

• Travis Myers

But she put only one data point on the graph, so it does’t show whether or not people who claim psychic powers have an advantage, because you don’t know where the dot would be for someone who claims very few psychic powers. It would make a little bit more sense if she drew a horizontal line, which would demonstrate that everyone has an equal chance of winning the lottery regardless of the number of psychic powers claimed.

• momtarkle

Having just a line would be pointless.

• http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

What a horizontal line would indicate is that success at the lottery is absolutely insensitive to variations in alleged psychic skill. It would better illustrate the point the comic is trying to make than the one data point (which, being one data point, doesn’t allow for valid extrapolation).

• momtarkle

line: 1. Mathematics A geometric figure formed by a point moving along a fixed direction and the reverse direction.

Pointless, like my attempts at humor.

• http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

I need to turn my pun sensitivity up.

Or perhaps that would be unwise.

• momtarkle

Don’t be nice to me or I’ll do it some more.

• Drew M.

I liked it!

• Jim Jones

The Randi Prize makes the same point.

• Bdole

How’s mine?

• Drew M.

Pretty bad. It should be a linear, not exponential.

*Snicker*

• http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

The psychics I’ve seen and heard usually claim limited ability, like “seeing” simple images or the beginning letter of a name. I think they’re charlatans, but even if they were legitimate, I wouldn’t expect them to pick winning lottery numbers.

• Jim Jones

> I think they’re charlatans

Any lingering doubts can be resolved by Googling (cold reading).

• http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

No lingering doubts here.

• tsig

Why not?

• http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

Because it’s apparently outside the scope of their ability. If a psychic can divine only the first letter of someone’s name, I’d expect the same regarding a winning lottery number i.e. the first digit.

• Paul (not the apostle)

Now let’s see the power of prayer graph

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