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Volcanic Activity

People seem to think that there are a lot of volcanoes erupting lately. It might be from the Clustering Illusion which states:

The clustering illusion is the tendency to erroneously consider the inevitable "streaks" or "clusters" arising in small samples from random distributions to be non-random. The illusion is caused by a human tendency to underpredict the amount of variability likely to appear in a small sample of random or semi-random data.

In conjunction with Cognitive Bias related to the amount of coverage the eruptions are receiving right now from the media.

Cognitive bias states:

A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own "subjective social reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.

This leads to Apophenia a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information.

Apophenia is the tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things. Confirmation bias is a variation of apophenia. The term (German: Apophänie) was coined by psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in his 1958 publication on the beginning stages of schizophrenia.

The current level of volcanic activity is normal.

On average, there are usually ~20 volcanoes in some stage of erupting at any given time.

The recent eruptions in Hawaii and the recent one in Guatemala which have been deemed news worthy are not connected.

So the short answer it's just the coverage and/or the fact that these two eruptions are happening in populated places and that both are being filmed a lot by locals.

As for the rates, you can check out the Smithsonian weekly eruption report to get a sense that there are lots of eruptions going on that aren't making the news. When you go back into the archives, which span ~18 years, you can get a somewhat qualitative sense that this number of currently erupting volcanoes is not out of the ordinary. As a side note, this is not quite real time, so this is the summary for last week so it doesn't yet include the eruption in Guatemala.

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