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Chances Are: Part I

by Steve Zolotow |  Published: Aug 21, 2013


There is only a small chance that an average person understands chances, odds, and how they relate. In fact, even gamblers and mythical beings are frequently confused. In the recent Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Mr. Spock, a legendary half-Vulcan/half-human creature possessing incredible mental powers, states that he has calculated the odds of something at 96 percent (I rounded this to make the math easier.) Ninety-six percent is the chance that something will (or won’t) happen. The odds can easily be computed from the chances, and they are 24-to-1. By the time I finish teaching you about odds, you’ll know more than Spock does about this topic, and perhaps you will also be able to avoid making some bad bets. First let’s look any event. If it is certain to happen, then the chance that it happens is 100 percent. If it can’t possibly happen, and thus will never happen, ...

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