The PowerBall and MegaMillions jackpots have been up again. The Super Bowl was just a little while ago and word has it that in Las Vegas you really could bet that the first score would be a safety. Around here everybody is betting on whether the weather will ever rise above freezing again. What do these things have in common? They all have odds of winning, or in the case of the last one, not freezing.
Once upon a time we took statistics to determine odds and what’s significant and what isn’t. In fact, He of We recalls an assignment that required the fledgling statistician to determine the odds of him or her passing the course. That was cruel but the odds weren’t all that bad.
When the PowerBall people reconfigured the number of numbers available to draw, the odds of winning went from something like one in a gazillion to one in infinity. Yet people still win. That got us to thinking. If you stop to think about what are the odds of something happening the odds are pretty good that you will end up with a headache. Don’t even think of gambling. Just think of life. What are the odds you’ll get to work on time every day next week? What are the odds that you won’t slip on an icy sidewalk? What are the odds that you’re next paycheck will be in the bank before you next have to fill up your car’s gas tank? Everything has a chance that it will or will not happen. Not that it might or might not. It either will or it will not.
That led us to a most profound revelation. The odds of anything happening are 50/50. Or even of not happening. Everything in life boils down to a 1 in 2 chance. Either it will or it won’t. It doesn’t matter if some world class statistician determined the odds that the first play from scrimmage in the Super Bowl would result in a safety were 6,000 to 1 or that the odds that Finland will win the women’s hockey gold medal in the Olympics are 16 to 1. There’s a headache starting to happen. There are only eight teams in the women’s tournament so shouldn’t the greatest odds be 8 to 1? It doesn’t matter. The real odds are 50/50. Either they will win or they will lose.
So now that we’ve shared our profound revelation with you, you can bet with confidence on next year’s Super Bowl, this year’s Olympics, or tomorrow’s weather. Everybody deserves the good odds and you can’t get much better than 50/50. Actually even that can be reduced to some pretty good odds. Either you will or you won’t.
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?