Risk, probability, and how our brains are easily misled

The funny thing is that this isn't the product of some mental weakness--Tenenbaum suggested that it's the product of an excellent built-in sense of what makes for a random pattern. If you graph the frequency of various possible results, it's possible to see a pattern of peaks at random-looking series and valleys at the ones that chance would seem to disfavor. Comparing the graph generated from our audience to one produced in the 1930s, and it was obvious that the pattern was nearly identical--what we think of as random appears to be quite stable.The one exception, he noted, was when he performed the experiment with a math-savvy audience. There, a part of the audience recognizes that any series is equally probable, so they are more likely to put down all heads or all tails.

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