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GeneralMindat postings on diamonds, gold, meteorites and the Probabilistic Theory

12th Nov 2019 00:26 UTCBob Harman

We have all seen the postings, usually from novice newcomers, saying they believe that they have found diamonds, gold, a meteorite etc.   After reviewing the photos, all Mindat responders on all these threads have said, in one way or another, that the finds are not what the posters believed. This is all from "just" the provided photos with some scant information.

Now the Probabilistic Theory, as I understand it, was developed by the Romans about 2000 years ago. It states that unless a fact can be absolutely 100% positively be debunked, then there is a very small, but finite chance that the fact is possible.... There is a small chance (very very small chance) that the fact is, in fact, possible.

To give one example in real life, in 2004 the silver mining town of Wallace Idaho (see photos of silver minerals from this locality) had its town counsel and mayor officially declare the town to be the exact center of the universe!   As no one could absolutely prove this fact wrong, they  today are considered by themselves to be the absolute center of the universe.  They have a monument to this and are a tourist destination for this proclamation!  
See all the online websites referring to this Wallace Idaho Probabilistic Theory proclamation!

Soooo, with only photos and scant info on Mindat, all of us responders are probably correct, but only "probably" correct.  But using the Probabilistic Theory, there still is a small finite chance that the posters might just be really finding diamonds, gold, meteorites etc. Yeah right!   :)       CHEERS.......BOB

12th Nov 2019 00:40 UTCDon Saathoff Expert

"If anything is possible then it follows that nothing is possible"

12th Nov 2019 00:41 UTCRobert Nowakowski

I am not an astronomer but i think it would be easy to prove that earth is nowhere near the center of the universe.

12th Nov 2019 00:59 UTCMartin Rich Expert

....if the universe has a center!

13th Nov 2019 01:08 UTCKyle Bayliff

Current cosmological theory is it does not. More precisely, the universe is infinite and expanding (and the expansion is accelerating) isotropically from every point in space, so I suppose in that sense, everywhere is the center of the universe.

12th Nov 2019 04:07 UTCD Mike Reinke

Bob, that is hilarious.  Yes someone may find a meteorite or even a diamond, like the child that found one that touched off the diamond rush in South Africa, if what I read was accurate history. Till then I won't be holding my breath, lol... I will keep hounding micros and reading Mindat Message board though...

12th Nov 2019 05:22 UTCcascaillou

Which is why, when in doubt, it does make sense to ask for more pictures and further testing. Then, it's also a matter of expertise from those who choose to help with the identification. 

Also, concerning suggested tests, when what we're looking at is potentially a quality specimen, better suggest non-destructive tests, when practicable (streak test, hardness test and acid tests being potentially damaging to a specimen).

12th Nov 2019 07:04 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

They may be correct, but most likely aren't.

The whole thing however is a huge waste of our time and resources, which is why we don't allow it.

12th Nov 2019 17:03 UTCGeorg Graf

Hi All,

in case someone wants to know, how the world is, in case, someone is curious about the reality, then he or she will not ask "Is this gold?" "A meteorite?", but "What is this?" I enjoy to show such a person, that also at a first glance "normal" stones or other things, can be quite interesting, if one looks in detail to them.

But many people are ensnared by greed, overconfidence, vanity, ... I dislike, to discus with such people.

(Just some thoughts.) Best to all! Georg

The center of the universe should be in Idaho? No, it´  s in my wine cellar.

12th Nov 2019 18:36 UTCFrank K. Mazdab Manager

Hi Georg,

Yes, you hit the nail on the head.

We seem to get two types of newby "discoverers" here:

the ones who find something, think, "oh, that's curious", and subsequently ask us "what is this?", and the ones who find something, think, "oh, that must be valuable" and subsequently ask us to verify their ID.  And while the former group may also occasionally frame their question as an ID verification, such as "is this quartz, or calcite, or fluorite, etc." (and indicating they've taken the initiative to learn about the most common minerals they're likely to find in their areas), the latter group curiously seems to only ever "find" diamonds, precious metals, meteorites, and rare gemstones... never anything more mundane.

Upon posting here, I suspect those in the former group likely appreciate the knowledge they gain from discussing their finds with the membership here, and over time they become more knowledgeable themselves; those in the latter group continue to argue that all the experts are wrong until their annoying behavior eventually gets them banned from the site, and in the process have learned nothing (about rocks, or about peoples' patience with would-be opportunists).

In the end, suspect most of the accidental discoveries of actual diamond, meteorite, gems, etc. come from the former group and not from the latter group.  

12th Nov 2019 19:46 UTCMatt Courville

Might not be a bad idea to keep a template for such answers.  For example:

'Chances: 1 in 100,000,000 you have 'X' mineral/metal/meteorite, but it is possible

Try out this hardness test and density determination from the 'link' and let us know if you have what you suspect.'

This would avoid frustrated or time-wasted answers while stimulating the person to engage in minerology.  My assumption is that almost everyone on mindat who buys minerals looks to find that absolute steal at a show where the asking price is only a fraction of what it should be, and the likelyhood to find such a deal is 1 in 100,000,000 to actually get one.  We all like to dream - turn that annoying newbee into a serious collector, or at best a potential minerologist.

13th Nov 2019 20:55 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

But many people really can‘t wrap their mind around the concept of "chances are 1 in 100,000,000" ... It doesn‘t really register, so that‘s why people buy lottery tickets. (A human lifespan is only about 36,000,000 minutes.)

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