Re: coin flipping

Ross A. Finlayson (
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 00:45:55 -0400

Clint O'Dell wrote:

> >Not true. There is a chance, no matter how miniscule, that a million
> >flipped coins will all be heads.
> I dropped out of the conversation for a while but after noticing this
> discussion was still going on I have to say this.
> You're thinking statistics not probability. Probability is what actualy
> happens, what we actualy observe and statistics is what's supposedly
> probable in pure mathematics.
> Take the lottery for example. Statisticaly any combination is just as
> likely as any other combintation. But when you enter all those drawings in
> a database and do a comparison you notice that is not the case. 1 2 3 4 5 6
> does not occur nor any sequence of 6, by 1s, 2s, or what ever. Why not?
> After all, a number is just a mark. A 3 is the same thing as a 22. I don't
> try to explain such things (though I probably could if I cared to put the
> energy to it) instead I notice it has never happened compared to what has
> happened. I make the logical assumption, based on observation, what has
> happened the majority of the time will continue to happen. So I get rid of
> all sequences of 6 in a possible combination and I greatly decrease my odds.
> (Note: I don't play the lottery, but it's fun to watch)
> So with coin flipping I compare the probability 50/50 based on the amount of
> flips I've already done and compare that to the statistical value of the
> possibility of it comming up heads that many times. I have an ~50/50
> compared to a 1/100. 1 is much greater than .001. They can't both be true
> because that would be contradictory so I reason by the amount of gap 50/50
> will always happen while 1/100 never will.
> -Clint
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Well, I do admit to having bought several lottery tickets, and can't say that the drawings were ultimately random, yet, it still is so that, if random, the drawings are just as likely to pull any given set of numbers as any other within the possible sets.

It is certainly true that you are much more likely never to throw a hundred heads or tails in a row. However, partially that is due to the fact that yu don't spend all of your time flipping coins. If your habit, during all your waking hours, was to flip a coin a given number of samples times, and record this, considering a coin that is flipped in a patented 50/50 random manner, a chart of these records would show the expected results from statistics. As the number of sets of flips grew higher, and mathematically goes to infinity, the likelihood of having a run of the same for all flips in the set also grows. Considering that, theoretically, flipping a coin, or throwing a die, at any given rate forever would eventually yield any count of series of the same result.

When it comes to organized gambling, I feel content in having won more from the organized gambling establishment then they from me, in terms of dice and card games. Yet, I know this is lucky, and that the odds are against winning in most games of chance, they are designed so. These industries certainly recognize the value of that even miniscule (or not) marginal edge. In friendly games I think I am broken even.

This is neat, about probability,, I see this a week or so ago, I don't feel that I understand it yet. I did fulfill a college minor in statistics.

Well, was I predetermined to write these words, or did they randomly get typed into the keyboard. I like to think they were a simple expression of my own device(s).

Ross Finlayson