Caveat: naufragia fecerunt in marique perierunt

At Diagoras cum Samothracam venisset, atheus ille qui dicitur, atque ei quidam amicus: "Tu, qui deos putas humana neglegere, nonne animadvertis ex tot tabulis pictis, quam multi votis vim tempestatis effugerint in portumque salvi pervenerint?"

"Ita fit," inquit, "illi enim nusquam picti sunt, qui naufragia fecerunt in marique perierunt."

— Cicero, De Natura Deorum

Diagoras, who is called the atheist, being at Samothrace, one of his friends showed him several pictures of people who had endured very dangerous storms; "See," says he, "you who deny a providence, how many have been saved by their prayers to the Gods."

"Ay," says Diagoras, "I see those who were saved, but where are those painted who were shipwrecked and perished?"

— Cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE), On the Nature of the Gods

This, in fact, addresses what is sometimes called the "survivorship fallacy," a logical fallacy that frequently arises in even high-level formal research in economics and the social sciences.

[daily log: walking 6.5km]


Back to Top