Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ the frequency illusion

February 8, 2023 • 8:45 am

The latest Jesus and Mo strip, called “effect”, came with the email note “I hope you haven’t seen this joke before.” Nope, I haven’t, nor had I heard of the Baader-Meinhof Effect, though I’ve long known who the Baader-Meinhof Gang, also known as the “Red Army Faction.”

The “Baader Meinhof Effect” is better known in psychology as the “Frequency illusion.”, a term coined in 2005 but with a previous history:

The name “Baader–Meinhof phenomenon” was derived from a particular instance of frequency illusion in which the Baader–Meinhof Group was mentioned. In this instance, it was noticed by a man named Terry Mullen, who in 1994 wrote a letter to a newspaper column in which he mentioned that he had first heard of the Baader–Meinhof Group, and shortly thereafter coincidentally came across the term from another source. After the story was published, various readers submitted letters detailing their own experiences of similar events, and the name “Baader–Meinhof phenomenon” was coined as a result.

Anyway, we see the frequent trope in this strip of Mo instantiating what he’s talking (or, more frequently, complaining) about:

7 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ the frequency illusion

  1. I’ve long felt a reluctance to call it Baader-Meinhof Effect, and have preferred a simple descriptive term. This is mostly a distaste for the ugly reality of who they were and what they stood for, which should not come into play.

    But also there is an issue of the proliferation of linking famous names to phenomena that don’t have much relation to those people operationally. How then to keep straight the Baader-Meinhof Effect from the Barbra Streisand Effect from the Nelson Mandela Effect?

  2. That is an outstanding joke. Reminds me of an old xkcd: “I used to think correlation implied causation. Then I took a statistics class. Now I don’t.” “Sounds like the class helped.” “Well, maybe.”

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