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Chance, Additional Subthemes

Subthemes: Non-Quantified Language, Quantum Probability, Risk Aversion

The previous four posts considered associations with “Chance”: the agony of Russian Roulette, religion and churches, the absence of vengeful gods and only crass chance, and unimagined divorce. Here we consider a few other observations about chance.

Non-Quantified Language: When people describe the likelihood of something they typically use terms that are not quantified. “It’s likely to rain” is said more commonly than “a 70% chance of rain.” Or “Our team has a good chance of making the playoffs” as compared to “Our team has about a 60% chance of making the playoffs.” The same non-quantified term can mean widely different prospects to different people. “We’ll probably win” means to the optimistic fan an 80% or higher likelihood; to a less sanguine analyst, it might mean just a shade over a 50-50 proposition. In general, expectations of an outcome become more reasonable and converge on a similar view to the degree that people setting the expectations attach numbers to their prediction.

Quantum Probability: In the atom in Wonderland world of quantum weirdness, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle applies to everything physical a fundamental probability, aka chance. For example, the more precisely one knows a particle’s position, the less one can know about its momentum, and vice versa. According to quantum physics, electrons don’t exist in any one spot, but rather exhibit probabilistic locations. Down in the tiniest innards of particles, interactions and existence display probabilistic chance.

Risk Aversion: Behavioral economists have demonstrated repeatedly that most people fear a loss of a given amount more than they welcome the reward of the same amount. Humans tend to be less likely to take a chance when we might lose something, than boldly venture to gain the same amount. We don’t perceive symmetric positive and negative chances as equivalents. Most of us won’t accept an offer that amounts to a fifty-fifty chance of gaining one-hundred dollars or of having to pay one hundred. Put briefly, humans have evolved to view chance as a risky proposition.

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