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These Very Unlikely Events Will Make You Stop Believing In Probability

By Zachary Brenner

When I was working as a math teacher, there was one afternoon where I was working with a student on probability. I asked him what I thought was a simple question. If I roll a six-sided dice, what are the odds it will land on five? His answer was five. I tried explaining to him that only one side of the six sides says five, so the answer is one of six. We spent a solid half-hour debating whether or not the chances were one out of six or five out of six.

We discussed it for so long, I no longer know if I was right. What is important is that sometimes I see things that seem so unlikely, so improbable that I can't believe what I am seeing. I would assume that someone dropping a ball off of a bridge into a basketball hoop has a one in a billion chance of happening, but it has happened, so can it really be that uncommon? I don't even know how dice work any more!

Please send help.