Let’s Talk About Probability

Improbable   by  Adam Fawer    description:

David Caine inhabits a world of obsession, rich rewards, and rapid, destructive downfalls. A compulsive gambler and brilliant mathematician prone to crippling epileptic seizures, he possesses the uncanny ability to calculate odds of any hand in the blink of an eye. But one night at an underground poker club, Caine makes a costly miscalculation, sending his life spinning out of control. Desperate, he agrees to test an experimental drug with unnerving side effects: inexplicable visions of the past, present, and future. Unsure whether he’s perceiving an alternate reality or suffering a psychotic breakdown, Caine embarks on a journey that stretches beyond the possible into the world of the improbable. Gradually, he discovers the extent of his astonishing new ability — but powerful, shadowy forces know Caine’s secret. Now Caine must fight for his survival — and his sanity . . .

improbablyImprobable     5 STARS

One of my all time favorite novels… and it makes me so mad that this author has yet to write anything else… this book hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until you’ve turned that last page and you can finally tell yourself to breathe normally again… maybe it’s just my love of the crazy out there theories… but as I’ve said before… I love a book that can entertain as well as teach… dealing with the theory of Laplace’s demon… look it up, it’s a really intriguing theory… and the idea of knowing how everything will react with everything else giving you knowledge of the future of every action… this of course helps Caine escape people that are trying to hunt him down with the intention of either killing him or using him as a lab rat for the rest of your life… it just deals with such a different premise that created a rather original plot line… and all the characters just add to the thrill as you sit there wondering what will happen next…

and though I don’t believe I’ve ever done this before… I love this first paragraph and have to share just how great this writing, which has a bit of dry wit about it…

Okay, let’s talk about probability. First up, everybody’s favorite topic: the lottery.

The odds of winning Powerball are approximately 120 million to 1. Since its inception in 1997, over 50 people have “defied the odds” and won the jackpot, making them some of the luckiest, and wealthiest, people on the planet. I hate those people. But I digress.

Now let’s talk about another low-probability event: civilization getting wiped out by a giant asteroid colliding with the earth. Astrophysicists have calculated that the chance of this happening in any given year is approximately 1 million to 1.

Since our simian ancestors have roamed the planet for over 7 million years, the probability that an asteroid would have wiped us all out by now is roughly 700 percent. In other words, we should all be dead–not once, not twice, but seven times over.

However, as most of you already know, since the recorded history of mankind, humanity has never been annihilated.

So what’s my point? Well, it’s not that we’re all going to be killed by an asteroid. Instead I want you to understand something about low-probability events, and that is this:

Shit happens.

–Excerpt from a statistics lecture by David T. Caine

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