The Miraculous Train That Makes Babies!

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I found this article, "The Baby Train", on that claims a small town near Sydney, Australia is filled with children because the town has a main train line running through it. The author swears that the direct cause of this major child influx is that the train wakes up people in the middle of the night and instead of going right back to sleep, couples feel compelled to fill that time with, let's just say, a different "extracurricular activity". His hypothesis is very scientifically sound, isn't it? NOT!
His theory contradicts many of the six principles of scientific thinking. However, the two main ones that help indicate that this is not a scientifically proven fact are extraordinary claim and correlation versus causation. The author has no evidence to support his claim and therefore is extraordinary. It sounds more like an episode of The Twilight Zone more than a scientific hypothesis if you ask me--a magic train that produces kids in the blink of an eye! What also makes this extraordinary is the author's mistake of falling into the traps of the correlation versus causation fallacy. He assumes that the train is causing babymania but in reality, a third outside event or situation could explain what is going on.
Besides the violation of the principles, the author is also falling victim to confirmation bias which is when we tend to only seek out evidence that supports our hypothesis. Observing only that there were many children running around (so much so, that the schools were overfull as well as the maternity ward in the hospital), he didn't take the time to uncover other reasons to why couples had their children. An easy way to fix this problem would be to do a survey or some interviews instead of jumping to conclusions.
Clearly, although some might find trains very appealing (whatever floats your boat), I think most people would say that the train passing through the middle of the night is not causing couples to get their freak-on!

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This page contains a single entry by wols0027 published on September 29, 2011 7:20 PM.

Hindsight Bias: The Simple Inventions was the previous entry in this blog.

Nature Vs. Nurture. How far does Nurture really go? is the next entry in this blog.

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