Counterfactual talk as nonsense

‘We all indulge, in anger and regret, in counterfactual talk: “If they had not operated, John would be alive today”; “If I had not said that, she would not have left me”; “If I had chosen a different publisher, my book on causality without counterfactuals would have sold 10,000 copies.” The more fortunate among us have someone to remind us that we are talking nonsense.’

– Shafer, G. (2000, p. 442) [Causal inference without counterfactuals: Comment. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 95, 438–442].