Sunday, July 7, 2013

Five-Hundred-Eighty-One to One

A clear example of how innumeracy in general and misunderstanding probability specifically underlies climate change denialism:

I would go further to say that the average person probably thinks 581:1 odds are not that bad. These are the same folks who buy lottery tickets with odds in the millions or billions, after all.

We should all have to do an assignment at some point in our lives where we try to draw a particular slip of paper from a box containing 500 or even 200 slips. Winning the occasional door prize undermines our ability to understand bad odds when we see them. Someone has to win the door prize, but there aren't 581 Earths of which one will get lucky.

1 comment:

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

It's that one random win, by oneself or somebody else, that keeps us playing the lottery and believing we can win it all. With the lottery, though, the worst one can do is spend money and not win. Our treatment of Earth has more at stake.