Why predicting a flu outbreak is like betting on football or flipping a coin

We humans have an innate tendency to recognise patterns. This ability has helped us survive by learning important skills such as how to distinguish danger (predators and poisonous plants, for instance) from important resources (food sources and safe shelter) and knowing the right time of year to plant crops.

But the same ability can sometimes convince us we’re seeing a meaningful pattern when it isn’t there.

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