Thursday, March 25, 2004

where there's smoke, there's Pop Secret!, act II

No, the smell of burnt microwave popcorn here in the RV has not yet abated. My new microwave will recover, although it's lost much of its new-ness.

The logic of causal inference is topic of considerable consideration in my graduate methods course. For whoever knows how long, I have always microwaved popcorn for precisely 210 seconds, with no problems. Last night, the bag bursts into flames and burns down to a cinder* in that same amount of time. What could explain the different outcome? I chalked it up to my using a different brand/kind of popcorn from before, while I regarded as an annoying act of God that this should happen right after I bought a new microwave. Today, glacially, the realization rolled across my brain that it was probably actually far more likely that the new microwave emits massively more microwave energy than my old one did.

* An exaggeration. Sue me.

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