Very soon after the disappearance of AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501 was reported, people on social media were too eager to find "patterns" between these and Malaysia Airlines Flights MH370 and MH17, which both went down earlier this year. RΣV☯lu✝☥☯|\| @highconsciouss 1 plane is an accident, 2 planes is coincidence, 3 planes is a pattern. #AirAsia #QZ8501 #MH370 #MH170 10:50 PM - 28 Dec 2014 Reply Retweet Favorite RΣV☯lu✝☥☯|\|@highconscioussFollow1 plane is an accident,2 planes is coincidence,3 planes is a pattern.#AirAsia #QZ8501 #MH370 #MH1702:50 PM - 28 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite Rhys Muldoon @rhysam Air Asia (a budget Malaysian airline) has a missing plane. 3 Malaysian planes is starting to look like a pattern. http://t.co/Owi4WrYbkZ 04:04 AM - 28 Dec 2014 Reply Retweet Favorite Rhys Muldoon@rhysamFollowAir Asia (a budget Malaysian airline) has a missing plane. 3 Malaysian planes is starting to look like a pattern. http://t.co/Owi4WrYbkZ8:04 PM - 27 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite JAKE CANTU @JakeOnTour they need to fire the guy working on the planes in Southeast Asia....3 planes in a year is a pattern... 07:18 PM - 28 Dec 2014 Reply Retweet Favorite JAKE CANTU@JakeOnTourFollowthey need to fire the guy working on the planes in Southeast Asia....3 planes in a year is a pattern...11:18 AM - 28 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite There are plenty of reasons why these claims of "patterns" are severely misguided. 1. There were 111 airline crashes in 2014, with 8 incidents involving commercial aircraft. Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives / Via cnn.com Besides QZ8501, MH370, and MH17, the other commercial airliner incidents in 2014 were Nepal Airlines Flight 183, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 701, TransAsia Airways Flight 222, Air Algérie Flight 5017, and Sepahan Airlines Flight 5915. 2. AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines are two separate & unconnected airlines; QZ8501 was run by an Indonesian associate. sabre23t / Via commons.wikimedia.org AirAsia Berhad was bought by Malaysian former Time Warner executive Tony Fernandes in 2001 as a heavily-indebted airline founded by a government-owned conglomerate. It turned a profit in 2002 and is now a strong privately-owned budget air provider in Asia.Malaysia Airlines was founded in 1946 as Malayan Airlines and is currently completely owned by the Malaysian Government. Before its renationalisation in August 2014, the Malaysian Government held nearly 70% share in the publicly-listed airline.QZ8501 was run by PT. Indonesia AirAsia, an associate carrier of AirAsia Berhad, which owns 49% of its share. The airline was founded in 1999 as Awair by Abdurrahman Wahid and changed its name to Indonesia AirAsia in 2005. 3. In contrast to MH370 and MH17, the pilot and co-pilot of QZ8501 were Indonesian and French. Angela / Via mirror.co.uk Captain Iriyanto, an Indonesian, has logged over 20,000 hours of flight time and used to serve in the Indonesian Air Force before being a commercial pilot. The co-pilot, Rémi Emmanuel Plesel, was born in the French territory of Martinique and lived in Paris, and had logged a little over 2,000 hours of flight time.The pilots and co-pilots of MH370 (Zaharie Ahmad Shah and Fariq Abdul Hamid) and MH17 (Wan Amran Wan Hussin, Eugene Choo Jin Leong, Ahmad Hakimi Hanapi, and Muhd Firdaus Abdul Rahim) were all Malaysian. 4. We know what happened to MH17, and have a better idea of what happened to QZ8501. Persian Dutch Network / Via commons.wikimedia.org While the disappearance of MH370 is still a mystery, it was pretty quickly established that MH17 was shot down as it was flying over Ukraine. There are strong indicators that bad weather in the area could have played a part in QZ8501's disappearance. 5. About 83 planes have been declared "missing" since 1948. Bloomberg Visual Data / Via fastcodesign.com Asides from Bloomberg's infographic above, this Wikipedia list of aerial disappearances shows that MH370, MH17, and QZ8501 were far from unique. 6. Trying to find a pattern likely involves a statistical fallacy. Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF CaitlinJo / Via en.wikipedia.org The clustering illusion (also sometimes referred to as the "pattern-seeking fallacy") is "the tendency to erroneously consider the inevitable "streaks" or "clusters" arising in small samples from random distributions to be statistically significant", coming from underestimating the amount of variability in a sample set of data. Coupled with cherry-picking, such as ignoring the other 5 commercial flights that went down this year, as well as misunderstanding the differences between AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, and AirAsia Indonesia, this makes any notion of "patterns" already suspect. 7. QZ8501 and MH370 didn't even disappear from radar near each other. AndrosSturgeon / Via imgur.com The distance between the last known radar points of QZ8501 and MH370 is over half the length of the United States. Considering that the last known military contact with MH370 was further west into the Indian Ocean, this makes the distance between the two disappearance points even further apart. There is no such thing as a "Vietnam Triangle" or a "Malaysia triangle", and it is nowhere near the supposed Bermuda Triangle. 8. You are still more likely to die on the road than in flight. WGBH Educational Foundation / Via pbs.org While multiple factors, including fear, can be useful to calculate risk assessments, you are still way more likely to get hit by a car than be in a plane crash. Planes seem more dangerous because the rarity of plane crashes make them much more newsworthy.