Feb. 19th, 2011

shalanna: (clippy)
The other day a teenager whom I'm teaching a bit of piano by ear made an observation about probability that I have not been able to shake.

I know that all my old math teachers, my dad, Professor Angus, Professor Erna, Professor Richmond, and all of 'em are sittin' up there in Heaven shaking their heads at me. But this makes perfect sense and I can't find anything wrong with it.

We were discussing middle school math (which I have also tutored him in--he's a neighbor's kid) and he said, "All this probability stuff is a crock."

Now, I've often suspected the same. I never have fully followed the logic of the "proofs" as to why conditional probability is correct and all that stuff. I did accept that a roll of the six-sided dice is a one-in-six chance, but further than that they went into la-la land with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

But . . . this makes sense right here:

"I reject all those calculations. Everything's binary. It either happens, or it doesn't." He threw the chord chart to the carpet. "It either landed face up, or it didn't. Fifty-fifty."

I blinked.

"You either win the lottery, or you don't. You either live through the battle, or you don't. The die rolls a six, or it doesn't."

My brain cranked.

"See? I either learn this piece flawlessly, or I don't. I either eat the cheese, or I don't. You like me, or you don't. It's all just Do It or Don't. Do, or not do."

Try as I might, I couldn't come up with a coherent reply that actually refuted this.

Either you liked my book, or you didn't. Either we went out on a date, or we didn't. Either your number came up, or it didn't.

And on that note, we leave you to your regularly scheduled Saturday night computer gaming.


shalanna: (Default)

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