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Articles on Probability

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Before the pandemic, an intergenerational tea party wouldn’t have seemed a risky proposition. fotostorm/E+ via Getty Images

It’s impossible to determine your personal COVID-19 risks and frustrating to try – but you can still take action

People want a simple answer. Is this action safe? But despite Anthony Fauci bouncing responsibility for COVID-19 risk assessment to individuals, your risk can’t be boiled down to one probability.
So much uncertainty around risk can make it extra hard to decide what to do. Richard Drury/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Pandemic decision-making is difficult and exhausting – here’s the psychology that explains why

People tend to dislike uncertainty and risk – two things that are hard to avoid completely during a pandemic. That’s part of why it can feel especially draining to make even small decisions these days.
A ‘100-year flood’ doesn’t mean you’ll be flood-free for the next 99 years. Win McNamee/Getty Images

What’s a 100-year flood? A hydrologist explains

Flood plain statistics can be confusing. There are better ways to think about the risk of severe weather than 100-year storm or flood.
A black swan event must meet three criteria: it must be an outlier, must have a major impact and must be declared predictable in hindsight. (Buiobuione/Wikimedia)

Coronavirus is significant, but is it a true black swan event?

The danger of treating COVID-19 as an astronomically rare and improbable event is that we will treat it as such and fail to prepare for the next pandemic. And there will be another pandemic.
A statistics professor used his expertise in calculating probabilities to come up with a 98 winning percentage for Tim Hortons popular Roll up the Rim contest. (Photo Illustration/The Conversation)

Here’s how I cracked Roll up the Rim and won (almost) every time

Tim Hortons changed Roll up the Rim to include a digital element. A statistician correctly predicted that playing on the last day of the contest would dramatically increase the odds of winning.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates after his team won the NFL divisional playoff football game against the Houston Texans on Jan. 12, 2020. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

How sports fans respond to their teams’ wavering odds of winning

Watching the chances of victory change injects life into sports, both real and fantasy.
Clinical trials are important, but can’t get us to medicine prescribing that is 100% effective. Image Point Fr/Shutterstock.com

Why drug trials are only part of the answer to making sure medicines work

Clinical trials are used to establish that medicines work. But these don’t take into account the genetic differences between us that can mean very different outcomes for different patients.
Quantum physics can offer astonishing insights into the different modalities of innovation in large companies and startups. Zita/Shutterstock

Innovation decoherence

The study of innovation in large companies and start-ups would benefit from being inspired by physics, which mobilizes different sets of laws for large masses and particles.
Most Canadians have a higher probability of dying of heart disease than winning something in the McDonald’s Monopoly game. THE CONVERSATION CANADA/Scott White

McDonald’s Monopoly: A statistician explains the real odds of winning

McDonald’s Canada has brought back its popular Monopoly game. A statistician explains the odds of winning the top prizes and how that compares to the odds we confront in everyday life.

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