Your browser may block some cookies by default. By clicking, you agree to allow our advertising partners to place their cookies and serve you more relevant ads. Visit our privacy policy page to view our privacy policy or opt-out.

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.