Kid you not that is what word I got for my prompt.
For reference. I retrieve these prompts by turning my head, fanning out the pages, then pointing my finger (whilst still turned away) at a point on that page, and picking that word (I also allow myself to pick synonym of the word I point at, but that’s neither here nor there). The odds of getting the word thesaurus from a thesaurus (not considering human factors or subconscious factors) is 0.001111%… (a rough estimate, there being “over 90,000” entries, so (1/90000) X 100.
Finding this to be an invaluable coincidence I thought today I might discuss probability.
The thing with probability is, it doesn’t essentially matter (contextually) for a number of reasons.
Here is the Oxford definition for probability
- “The quality or state of being probable; the extent to which something is likely to happen or be the case.”
- “A probable or the most probable event.”
- Mathematics: “The extent to which an event is likely to occur, measured by the ratio of the favourable cases to the whole number of cases possible”
So basically, it gives the chances of an event occurring.
Now this can shape your decision making process in some ways, If you know something will work 95% of the time, you’ll probably use it. This doesn’t mean that it will always work, and the 5% failure rate still occurs. This is especially relevant for something like weather.
There is a 30% chance of rain today. However, there are only two real outcomes that can occur, it rains or it doesn’t. Whether (weather) or not its 30% or 90% doesn’t change those two outcomes.
Now, this isn’t to say that the generation of probability numbers are useless, nor that you should ignore them. Don’t go betting on just 00 when you roulette, it won’t go well (but sometimes it might?). But for my “ironic and invaluable” coincidence of getting “thesaurus” as my prompt, even though there is only a 0.00111%… chance of it happening, the same can be said for any other word it could of picked.
So.. to put numbers to the reasons why probability doesn’t matter.
1: Humans experience the things around them in the present and digest it from a position of it having already happened. So an event having a 1% chance of happening that happens doesn’t mean squat to the person it happened to.
2: Decisions are generally made from an outcome based approach, rather then a probability approach. For example, millions of citizens (in many countries) all put their hard earned income into buying lottery tickets. In terms of the odds, the chances of winning a jackpot (in say, the Saturday night lotto in Australia) are 1.2277380239989883e-5% (this is the best jackpot odds in Australia too), that number is SUPER small, ridiculously miniature. Based on this information, no-one would ever buy any tickets if they thought of the probability of it, but the outcome -instant millionaire- tempts the masses every week.
3. Finally, just because something can happen, doesn’t mean it will. While its true the average for coin flips is (probability wise) half heads / half tails, doesn’t mean that I can’t flip 100 tails in a row.
In saying all this, being a “writing with probability” blog, I should also stipulate that I also love probability. Despite the bulk of this blog-post being fairly negative towards it, I use some means of measuring chance every day…with just a roll of the die.
Ask me more!