Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Odds - Most People Think They Don't Apply to Them. The Odds Are You're An Idiot.

Boon Cartoon, boondawgoggle. Doodles. Spy,
happy face,  naked legs, gun, thug, jail, girl
things and hearts.
The odds?  We hear this term tossed about regarding casino's and the the odds are in their favor.  Sports games will  have odds of one team winning.  It also applies to endeavors of life and just about any activity or event where the outcome could be more than one result.  There are no odds that 2 plus 2 is 5.  Just never going to happen.  But the odds of a random coin flip landing on heads is 50%.

Now most people don't understand or at least they are not comfortable with statistics, which is the basis for odds.  What I've witnessed is people generally dramatically skew the odds or interpret them to favor their preferred outcome by employing emotion and desire.

What has me thinking about this?  Well for one I saw a news story this morning.  Now I've seen a lot of news stories that employ this tactic of big numbers standing alone.  This particular story focused on trailers coming unhitched from cars while moving.  They quoted that 300 people have died  from 2008 - 2012 from unhitched trailers.  Pretty big number.  Me being a bit analytical quickly did the math in my head.  That's 60 people per year, figure on average 2 per car that is 30 car incidence a year, or about 2.5 per month.  I agree if one of these people were a family member I'd be devastated and outraged that a simple solution could of prevented it...but is .00002 percent of the population of the United States being impacted by such an event cause to call it a crisis?  Is it even note worthy enough to justify allocation of the time on a news show?  The odds are slim to none and slim is out of town that this will ever impact someone you know.  But here is the emotional side....people respond to big numbers...300 is a big number to most, but not so when put into perspective.

Here's a big the next 90 years 300,000,000 people in the United States will die.  The current population of the US will all be dead in 90 years.  If you are part of the population that includes you.  The odds are 100% for you and anyone you know.  So here's a question, knowing this, why wouldn't everyone buy as much life insurance as they could.  Yea it might not enrich themselves but it will your family, who in turn could buy more gobs of life insurance to pass down more gobs of money.  The net return on money spent on a life insurance policy is huge.  It would only take a couple of generations of people dying in the family to make everyone in American very much millionaires.  You can't fight the odds of dying.

People want to fight the odds all the time.  No matter how much people understand about the historical numbers, if the unlikelihood of the event being in their favor they ignore it.  The lottery.  Look at pee-wee football, if you have a son who has ever played football from ages 5 to 12 you've seen the parent that seems hell bent that their son will be in the NFL.  Even if the kid does eventually play varsity high school football his odds of being drafted to the NFL are ,08 percent.  I'm not certain of  the odds of a pee wee player, but in my neck of the woods and all the kids I've coached,  I'd reduce that significantly.  Are those odds you should really fight?  You've got a 99.995 percent chance of failure.   Kind of seems if its going to happen its going to happen.

Yea beating the odds feels great and usually results in great things; money, fame, notoriety, and such.  But if you are going to completely ignore the odds you better be prepared to fail and understand the failure is not your fault.

Do you try to beat the odds?  Do the relative facts matter to you? Do you just focus on the number?

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