A tendency to drastically underestimate the frequency of coincidence is a prime characteristic of innumerates, who generally accord great significance to correspondences of all sorts while attributing too little significance to quite conclusive but less flashy statistical evidence.
John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences
Let's look at the possible options involved when a person wants to determine the facts about something.
1.They can make a wild guess
2.They can estimate based on some existing data.
3.They can follow a higher authority and adopt consensus
4.They can wait until a sufficient sample is available and deduce a meaningful hypothesis
Let's say you wanted to know how many square miles there are on Earth's surface. How would you go about it?
I'll wait while you tackle the problem in your head. Do the best you can and then write the figure down on a piece of paper.
Start with any fact you already know and see where it leads you..............
What number did you come up with?
How comfortable are you with it? Strongly confident? Confident? Somewhat confident? Mildly confident? Barely confident? Fairly certain you are dead wrong?
You see from this exercise that just tackling a fairly ordinary factual problem (there is a definite provable solution) requires specific information to BEGIN with.
Without it--you may as well make a wild guess.
Here is how the problem can be done.
The radius of Earth at the equator is about 3963 miles. The surface area of a sphere is given by Area = 4 pi r 2 , so the surface of the earth is: 4 x 3.14159 x 3963 miles x 3963 miles = 197,359,320.78684 square miles, plus a little extra to compensate for the vertical height of mountains and depth of valleys.
So, the correct answer is: About 198 million square miles.
How close did you get?
Ask yourself: How do we know the radius of the Earth in the first place? How do we know the formula for the surface of a sphere?
Without those previously figured facts where would we be??
What point am I making?
When the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses have made chronology their focus they built on what others have done before them.
That is their data source. The Adventists (William Miller in particular) used bible passages and also interpretations of certain perceived prophecies.
We are not talking FACTS. We are talking surmise, conjecture, guesswork and preconceived supposition.
None of these are facts!
The Bible, as we all have come to regretfully acknowledge, is itself an estimate of things said and done which was first oral storytelling!
Nothing comes from nothing.
You can't be precise based on non-factual starting materials!
You can believe your estimate of the surface of the Earth BECAUSE somebody told you. But, how did THEY figure it out?
The process is the key to understanding!
Facts are the SAME for everybody.
Opinion is what differs.
1914 as the second coming of Jesus is not FACT. It is opinion. Opinion based on what? Storytelling interpreted and estimated into writing! Based on what? Belief in the story.
When a Jehovah's Witness sits down to "explain" how 1914 is contained in the Bible what are they really doing?
They are basing their process on a series of weaker and weaker connections none of which is provable, demonstrable or actual data.
If any part of any step is a false step the entire conclusion collapses into rubble.
How would this be possible to detect?
If any tentative estimate is used to create a prediction which does not take place in reality the initial premise is FALSE.
To make a long story short: Jehovah's Witnesses are not much more than an organization of people who can believe the Earth is flat by writing numbers on a sheet of paper while ignoring photos from space satellites.
Or, worse: an authoritarian regime who dominate the lives of unwitting believers who accept a long series of false premises as though they were facts.
The Book of Genesis says of the Flood that ‘… all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered…’ Taken literally, this seems to indicate that there were 10,000 to 20,000 feet of water on the surface of the earth, equivalent to more than half a billion cubic miles of liquid! Since, according to biblical accounts, it rained for forty days and forty nights, or at least for only 960 hours, the rain must have fallen at the rate of at least fifteen feet per hour, certainly enough to sink any aircraft carrier, much less an ark with thousands of animals on board.
– John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy
You see, when we can test our imagined "facts" against actual facts the results can be quite devasting to our false premises.