Monday, April 10, 2006


Apparently I have an allergy to exercise or something, as afterwards my breath gets very forced and my body aches. I think this is a condition that really is not discussed enough in medical journals. Certain individuals have suggested to me that repeated attempts at this activity will enable me to get over such extreme reactions, but this seems unlikely to me. If someone had an allergy to a bee sting, would they keep getting stung? Deliberately that is.

Random point of trivia for you here, I have never been stung by a bee or a wasp. The worst ever has been a nettle, which is really over rated as a pain. I attribute this fact to my advanced form of cowardice called "running like a little girl". After all- "What cannot catch you, cannot hurt you." I also do not believe that proclaiming this will have any effect on my odds of getting stung, unless some activist, upon hearing my lack of wasp/bee related injuries, decides to unleash stinging hell upon me. People's belief in malign fate is actually probably stronger than their belief in any kind of benign one, from their claims that bringing an umbrella will stop it from raining, or wearing nothing but a t-shirt will make it cold. Clearly if there was any truth to this, you could generate fantastic micro-climates by having someone in winter clothes and someone in a t-shirt stand next to each other, and watch as they generate radically different weather.

People are prone to believe the funniest things- the assertion that lucky people exist, for example. Certainly one can obtain runs of luck, but the succesful existence of casions seems to imply that if there ARE lucky people, they are not lucky enough to tilt the odds of, say, roulette in their favour (where the expected return for 39 pounds in will be 38, assuming you are playing one number with each spin, and the wheel is totally unbiased. Which it will not be), or indeed slot machines, or any other game of probability. Anyone with an innate talent of actual luck could, give enough initial capital, make their living off gambling. Although admittedly if they were only very slightly lucky (only just beating the house on average), they would need a significant amount of money and time to compensate for a run of losses. It is, of course, fine to say that luck was in someones favour in a game, although one probably has a tendency to exxagerate that in ones mind- you remember the bits where THEY were very lucky, but not you, but to claim anyone is lucky overall probably stinks of someone being a bad loser. Not that I haven't, in my time, called someone incredibly jammy. This tends to be more the case when someone goes for something they shouldn't be able to do- people who get the last card that they need on the river in poker, someone makes a ridiculous shot in pool, I'm sure you can all think of very depressing examples, where the vagaries of probability serve to remind you that deeply unlikely really does not mean impossible. Ultimately the solution to this is to keep playing them, because if you truly believe yourself to be a better player than them, then on average you should come out tops. Of course it's entirely possible that over a thousands games of poker they will still beat you, it is just a little more unlikely.

I've lost my point here, I guess I just like to point out the frustrating lack of understanding when it comes to probablity in peoples lives. We all have a tendency, a very human one, to see patterns where there are none. Not believing in coincidences is a cliche detectives like to make, but they are incredibly frequent, simply because events that we think are deeply unlikely probably are not. A poor assesment of the probability of things is another symptom.

This also relates to disease treatment, as for example the MMR vaccene, when there were claims that it could lead to the development of autism. It was pointed out that even if this was a probablity, and it was highly doubtful, the consequences of not giving this vaccene were far worse, and far more probable.

I know this is a subject I have spoken about many a time before, but I think it is an interesting enough one to justify repitition. The most frustrating part of this is when these things get repeated in the media, people failing to use their heads on simple enough issues.


Post a Comment

<< Home