Who Wants To Be A Bouillonaire?

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that I write my own material. The bad news, well, look above and see for yourself. 🙂

I wrote the joke above while thinking about odds and probabilities, especially in terms of events like the Indiana State Fair and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.

We often hear things expressed in probabilities. For example, “This luxurious home is offered at only $999,995. It is located on a 100-year flood plain.”

According to Wikipedia: “A one-hundred-year flood is calculated to be the level of flood water expected to be equaled or exceeded every 100 years on average.”

“A 100-year flood has approximately a 63.4% chance of occurring in any 100-year period, not a 100 percent chance of occurring.”

Interesting. I did not know that. I assume that such estimates are based on a lot on factors like recorded history and an evaluation of as many guessable variables as possible. But who knows how accurate such things are?

In the case of something like a nuclear reactor, I always wonder how they can estimate the probability of something for which no history yet exists. Truth be told, it sounds a lot like total theory and guesswork to me.

Is it the height of hubris to think we really know the odds of what might happen, what might be possible? And do we always tend to err on the side we favor? And if so, what is the cost of this bias?

14 responses

  1. Of all the amazing talents that humans have demonstrated in our history on Earth, the one we’ve used and developed the most, by far, is our talent for baffling ourselves with bullshit to help allay our fears. Inventing the “guessable variable” we call “God” is quite possibly our greatest achievement! .

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    1. I agree! And the perfection of our innocent “who me?” look.

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      1. Oh we’ve got that one down pat, and impressed onto our DNA:

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  2. Humanity is all about hubris, though, isn’t it? I mean think of the fact that we’ve found the smallest components of matter (or think we have) – and for what, really? To build bombs that will wipe the world away? Probably?

    If I’m not making any sense, forgive me, I’m jetlagged.

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    1. They’ve discovered things smaller than quarks now. They are called philotrons. They can literally dance on the head of a pin. And their existence varies based on observation and belief. They are quite finicky in that way.

      IzaakMak, LOL at the pic! That’s what I’m talking about! 🙂

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      1. Those “philotrons” don’t happen to look like little kitties do they? 😉

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  3. How did you know? You must have extrapolated available facts nicely. In fact, the spectrometer came up with the following reading for a philotron. As you know, philotrons can’t be directly observed. They can only be inferred by the vibrations of quarks while simultaneously questioning the nature of existence.

    =^.^=

    This discovery of this spectrograph representation I have dubbed the “tabby.” No doubt additional flavors of philotrons will be discovered soon and will also need naming.

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    1. What would happen if you bury the box, with Schrödinger’s cat inside, in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary? http://www.geeksaresexy.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/catsh.png

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      1. Both! Loved it. 🙂

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  4. You’ve used numbers again…

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    1. You don’t like numbers. Probably because there are too many of them and stuff. 🙂

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  5. Deborah the Closet Monster | Reply

    I believe the answer is . . .
    pi.

    🙂

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    1. I knew some would get round to that. 🙂

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  6. […] that number is so big, I don’t even know what it is called. Probably something like a bouillon. So we’ll just use our poetic license and say the odds are about one in 12.3 […]

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Bringeth forth thy pith and vinegar

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