Looking at life through luck

Level 3

So why do humans not believe unlikely events. Well you may be thinking they do, to some extent, but trust me most people don't. Why should we care if they do or don't. Well it all comes round to why are they thinking like this and what else do they think about that draws them to reject information and that affects themselves and others, it can result in miscommunication, that results in problems and even arguments. If you don't believe humans act like this then tell someone you know fairly well that literally almost every time you went to the cash point over the weeks or months (or something else trivial like missing the bus) that almost every time you joined a long queue only to finish withdrawing cash to see there is no queue. Assuming where you live queues are constantly going from long to short that is, the point is what did they say. Did they accept it or did they tell you that that is probably selective thinking where you forgot about the times when you joined with no queue to then see a large queue behind yourself afterwards. Whilst spending an above average time withdrawing cash may not be a problem or worth thinking about it's interesting to test it to see how the likelihood is rejected by telling a story like this to someone else. After all we just made the story up but it does happen to people because we have such a big sample size of people withdrawing cash each day. Why is it when the chance is very low its assumed to be zero, when its not. If you aren't convinced sample size yields unlikely results then think about this. We can make unlikely outcomes happen easily, just by using a large sample size in a simple game. Imagine there's one million people who agreed to play this simple game. The game is everyone gets in pairs and flips a coin. A player chooses heads or tails and if they're correct they stay in the tournament. After one round, one million people have become 500,000 thousand people and it repeats. At the end there is just one winner and he will have won twenty coin flips in a row. The chance of flipping a coin twenty times and being correct each time is very low. In this tournament a million coins would have be flipped and if we flipped a coin a million times we would have about a 39% chance of being correct twenty times in a row before reaching our millionth flip. The interesting thing is in this tournament with one million people every time someone will be correct twenty times. This shows sample size does yield unlikely results and with some many people doing different things each day weird and unusual things happen. Of course without this structure we can't guarantee this to happen but naturally the chance increases with size just how it becomes more than 39% if we flipped the coin more than a million times. If you are now wondering so why does it always happen in this tournament but not if someone did the million flips by themselves that is because if you did it by yourself you don't have other people to carry on when you are wrong so you have to start again, starting again means it will take longer to get 20 coin tosses in a row correct. All we did was force a single outcome of someone being correct twenty times but in the end someone still experienced being correct twenty times and that would have been statistically unlikely in their eyes. If we can play with statisitics like this and skew our perception through little tricks then what else is happening in life that we are unaware of?


Now with some background into luck and statistics and also knowing that situations vary and how results can be shaped or skewed, lets now look more closely at luck. So we looked at how every result comes down to a product of all the variables working together in real time to produce a result we can see or measure or think about. Also we know there are just a vast amount of variables in even the simplest of things we do but we will explore that further later. Some of the variables are difficult for us to control or some unseen factors can suddenly play a major impact in the result. These such things are what we call luck. Imagine now that we want to throw a ball between twenty and twenty one metres on a particular day. If we wait for this particular day we might have a range of results from anything from 3 to 30 metres with most our potential throws to be between 16 and 23 metres, that might be because we have a natural tendency to under throw the ball more than over throw it. It could be that actually its really difficult to throw this ball much more than 23 metres. We might end up with a low distance on the odd throw, because our muscle gave in or someone interrupted us when were throwing the ball, causing the ball to pretty much land right in front of us. if we could repeat this intital throw again and again, altering the past every so slightly and in a way we wouldn't know would alter our first throw we could see results vary based on the unknown factors to us or perhaps any factor but lets not go off topic. These unknown variables therefore give variation to the results and humans recognise this distortion as luck because they are outside our control. We recognise it as bad luck when we get a less desirable result than expected or good luck when we get a higer more favourable one. That is luck! made up by humans interpreting variance, it doesn't exist, after all what happens happens because of what happened its just we cant see how everything came together and we cant control every muscle in our body or sudden muscle spasm in that moment, same with other events in life. If we make a bad throw thats because we threw it bad, but its not to say there was room for us to make improvements or we didn't do enough to shape the result either. Just there isn't one possible outcome each time we throw a ball, there are numerous outcomes even if there is just one outcome for a particular moment where we throw a ball. Luck is measured by us and from us intrepreting an individual outcome against the percieved possible outcomes. Although its how we interpret things that we can't change or control and whilst also there was still only to be one outcome as we move through real time, event after event causing event leading to the ball moving through the air, the fact is luck doesn't really exist in the rules of mathematics and science, the rules of physics were followed. At the same time our skill doesn't directly translate into a result equal to our skill it is subjected to numerous factors in that moment in time. Luck is our intrepretation of the sheer number of factors we can't possibly comprehend in a period of time, such as throwing the ball. So to us it is real and it has a really big effect on us and so should be taken seriously, at least to a point. Now lets go back to the throwing example but this time we train every day before this particular day where we are to throw this ball, we will likely increase our chance of successfully making the ball land within our requirements of 20 to 21 metres on this particular day. Other factors might change though, such as risk of injury due to the practicing we put in but the skill factor will increase making it worth the risk, most likely. At the start of practicing the luck factor may seem substantial, put in another way the variance of results will be wider or larger and that is because we are guessing a lot of the variables, the physics of the throw, the force and so on, but after practice we have a much better idea. Thus we can throw the ball more accurately and have a better chance of succeeding. So did luck shrink? The answer is no and this is because luck is just the outcome of those factors we can't comprehend coupled with the factors we can, whether we can change them or not. Luck wasn't substantial before it just seems that way to us. Luck in the way we have talked about, only gives us a range of possible throws, and each throw we get just one outcome from the possible range of outcomes. It may appear luck changes but that's because we as people like to be results orientated. All we did after practicing was to increase the impact of the other factor, the bit we can control, our own skill and luck distorts the outcome within our improved range once again. Its not luck that appears to have shrunk or changed or narrowed, its our perception of what unlucky and lucky is. If we throw the ball 19.2 metres after a lot of practice we may think that's frustrating having practiced and practiced after we had been consistently getting the ball to land between 20 and 21 metres maybe 90% of the time when practicing. A result of 19.2 is now unlucky although on our first throw it would have been considered kind of lucky to be so close on our first try. The luck factor is what is giving us a range of throwing it short or slightly over.. It's constant and works alongside our skillset.

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