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How to Define the Unlikely

Writing for Nautilus, Amir Aczel discusses how careful application of probability can make coincidences seem less fraught.

He uses analogies—plucking a card from a deck and plunging one's hand into a patch of grass—to explain that the tricky part of making sense of coincidences is getting a handle on the sample space.

Aczel writes:

It is the repetitiveness of the experiment that makes the improbable take place. The catch is that you can’t tell beforehand which of a very large set of improbable events will transpire. The fact that one out of many possible rare outcomes does happen should not surprise us because of the number of possibilities for extraordinary events to occur. 

Read the full essay.

 

Start Date: 
Friday, August 30, 2013

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