# Articles on Probability

## New statistical methods would let researchers deal with data in better, more robust ways

Any field that collects and analyzes data relies on statistical techniques to make sense of it all. Modern, more accurate methods should supplant the old ways... but in many cases, they haven't yet.

## Bayes’ Theorem: the maths tool we probably use every day, but what is it?

The decisions we make in life often come down to Bayes' Theorem, but most of us don't even realise what it is. So how does it work?

## Worried about shark attacks or terrorism? Here’s how to think about the real risk of rare events

We naturally overestimate the risk of rare events, like shark attacks or terrorism. But there are things you can do to think more rationally about the real risk.

## Momentum isn’t magic – vindicating the hot hand with the mathematics of streaks

For 30 years, sports fans have been told to forget about streaks because the 'hot hand' is a fallacy. But a reanalysis says not so fast: Statistics show players really are in the zone sometimes.

## Regression to the mean, or why perfection rarely lasts

Things tend to revert back to their typical state over time, so we should be careful not to mistake that for some other trend.

## Here’s the best way to shuffle a pack of cards – with a little help from some maths

When is a pack of cards truly random?

## Why football bets are far more profitable to bookmakers than gambling machines

Fixed odds betting terminals attract all the attention, but something alarming is being overlooked.

## Reports of the death of polling have been greatly exaggerated

People around the world were shocked when Hillary Clinton, ahead in many polls, didn't end up the U.S.' president-elect. But that doesn't mean the polls themselves were wrong.

## Gambling on limited information: our visual system and probabilistic inference

How does your brain deal with the ambiguous and variable visual information your eyes collect? Neuroscientists think it bets on what's the most likely version of reality.

## Pi pops up where you don’t expect it

We know pi appears when we talk about circles. But it appears in many other places, too. Why, pi, why?

## Has winning the lottery jackpot become too difficult?

A mathematician looks at the odds.

## How a simple observation from the 1800s about patterns in big data sets can fight fraud

The first digits of numbers in a data set aren't distributed equally. And now you know more than a lot of fraudsters do – and should – when they're making up their phony numbers.

## The promise and perils of predictive policing based on big data

Preventing crime before it happens, while saving resources, sounds like a great use of big data. But these calculated probabilities raise big questions about civil liberties.

## Can math solve the congressional districting problem?

The gerrymandered district has been part of the US political landscape for two centuries. Impartial math suggests several methods for drawing fair, competitive congressional districts.

## Three problems with the way we think about nuclear power

Our natural difficulties in thinking about the future, low probabilities and considering risk make many of our views about nuclear power problematic.

## In all probability, economic forecasts are probably wrong

Unpredictability is omnipresent in life, from dealing playing cards, through contracting an illness or getting promoted, to the rise or fall of equity markets. For those attempting to make the calls on…

## Can predictions of ‘barbecue summer’ ever be reliable?

As notorious weather predictions go, the “barbecue summer” of 2009 is up there with Michael Fish’s dismissal of the incoming 1987 hurricane. The summer turned out to be wet and windy, and questions were…

## How statistics can help in the mission to find MH370

That the Malaysian government, with the help of the UK’s INMARSAT, was able to dramatically narrow down the search area for flight MH370, made it seem much more likely that the wreckage of the plane might…

## In science, the only certainty is uncertainty

In the lead up to the release next month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report we are exploring concepts of confidence and certainty in climate science. You…

## The birthday problem: what are the odds of sharing b-days?

How many people do you have to put into a room before you are guaranteed that at least two of them share a birthday? We all know and love the blissful feeling of winning an argument. Well, trust me, that’s…