Risky business: Rare events happen surprisingly often

 作者:洪图     |      日期:2019-03-15 04:14:02
By Michael Bond In your recent book The Improbability Principle, you state that extremely unlikely events are commonplace. How so? At first glance, it sounds like a contradiction: if something is highly improbable, how can it possibly be commonplace? But as you dig deeper you see it is not a contradiction, and that you should expect what appear to be extremely improbable events to occur quite often. The principle itself is really an interweaving of five fundamental laws. Could you give an example of one of those laws? Take the law of truly large numbers. The most obvious example of this is the lottery. In the UK you have a 1 in 14 million chance of winning if you buy just one ticket. But of course if you get enough people buying enough tickets it becomes almost inevitable that somebody somewhere will win. Another example is the chance of being struck by lightning. Around the world there’s a 1 in 300,000 chance of being killed by lightning in any one year. The rational thing is to behave as if it’s not going to happen to you. But there are 7 billion people in the world, so there are a lot of opportunities for it to happen. In fact the chance that no one will be killed is about 10−10,133. So we should expect to see someone killed. In fact about 24,000 people every year are killed by lightning,