Excerpt from “CHAPTER FOUR: How to Calculate Probabilities: Four Basic Concepts”

How to Explain Almost Everything: The Power of Probability in Everyday Life by Dr. Robert A. Hitlin

Excerpt from “CHAPTER FOUR: How to Calculate Probabilities: Four Basic Concepts”:

Now that we have reviewed how probability thinking developed, and
some of the fields that are based on it, we will begin to calculate
probabilities. Many textbooks on probability use complicated formulas and
mathematical notations that can discourage the average person from delving
further into the subject. However, the basic ideas of probability can be
understood without advanced mathematics. We will begin by exploring
simple situations and solving them using only division and multiplication.

What is Randomness?

The most fundamental concept in probability theory is randomness.
“Random” is a term that is used in everyday conversation, but is often misunderstood.
Understanding what randomness is, and is not, is the key to
figuring out probability situations and making probability thinking work
for you.

Probability in the News – Miscellaneous

 

Top 10 States Where You’re Likely To Hit A Deer

 

“According to State Farm Insurance, for the eighth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where a collision is most likely. The odds a driver in the Mountain State will collide with a deer are 1 in 39, nearly a 5 percent increase compared to 2013.

Hawaii rounds out the bottom of the list also for the eighth year in a row with odds of 1 in 10,281. Hawaiians are three times more likely to get struck by lightning in their lifetime than they are to hit a deer in the next year.”

 Keith Griffin, Yahoo! Autos, September 26, 2014 

 

Excerpt from “CHAPTER THREE: What Probability Cannot – and Should Not – Be Used to Explain: Values and Normative Issues”

How to Explain Almost Everything: The Power of Probability in Everyday Life by Dr. Robert A. Hitlin

Excerpt from “CHAPTER THREE: What Probability Cannot – and Should Not – Be Used to Explain: Values and Normative Issues”:

Probabilistic, logical, and statistical analysis can shed light on the
implications of the values and norms that we accept, but this type of analysis
cannot be used to directly prove or disprove basic belief systems. For
example, which worldview is more correct: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish,
Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, agnostic, atheist, or some other perspective?
The type of logic we are discussing has nothing to say about this question.
For reasons beyond the scope of this book (for example, early childhood
socialization) people are raised with different religious beliefs and either
accept, reject, or modify these beliefs during their lifetimes. Whatever is
right or wrong about these beliefs is not provable using probability theory.

Although the distinction between the normative and the empirical is
accepted in the western philosophy of science, some people do not accept
this distinction. I will not explore this argument here because it is not necessary
for the purpose of this book. However, a brief discussion of religion
will illustrate how the normative and the probabilistic can and do interact.

Excerpt from “CHAPTER TWO: What Probability Can Explain”

How to Explain Almost Everything: The Power of Probability in Everyday Life by Dr. Robert A. Hitlin

Excerpt from “CHAPTER TWO: What Probability Can Explain”:

Everything in life is a gamble. We muddle through life making both
good and bad decisions constantly. However, if we can develop the
habit of thinking consciously about probabilities, we can improve our understanding
of the world around us and be more successful in this world.

In Chapter Four, we will explore how to calculate event probabilities.
First, however, in this chapter we will examine how the knowledge of probability
can impact the decisions we make in various aspects of our lives. For
example, if you buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket are you likely to become
rich? Do you ever complain when meteorologists predict a 50% chance of
rain? Why can’t they just make up their minds? Suppose you are playing
Texas Hold’em with one card left to turn over. You need one particular
card for a straight flush, and your opponent appears to have a full house
and goes all-in. Should you call or fold?