How Trends Emerge

I was reading a story in the San Jose Mercury News about two apparently related assaults on registered Sex Offenders in the Mountain View area, and partially buying into the notion that they may be related. I started thinking, “This will probably cause copycat crimes,” but still we go on reporting it as a “trend”. Still I was going along with the general gist of the article, until I got to this bit, buried in the preamble to the conclusion:
Authorities are investigating the incidents as if they are related, Wylie said.

It’s statistically unlikely that they are not connected in some way,” she added.

Good luck with that. There’s a certain presumptive logic in this conclusion, I would say. Incidents seem to cluster up and mean something, and so we come up with a story for a bit. But a story only emerges after time has passed. You cannot force the narrative to go where it is not ready to go, not without sufficient story to support it. A narrative of this order must span time and support the weight of many events, not just two.


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