# Re: coin flipping

John Clark (jonkc@worldnet.att.net)
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 00:43:47 -0400

Clint O'Dell <clintodell@hotmail.com> Wrote:

>Probability is what actualy happens, what we actualy observe and
>statistics is what's supposedly probable in pure mathematics.

No, probability is a measure of confidence on the accuracy of our prediction, it has to do with us not what we're guessing about, quantum mechanical considerations excluded of course.

> 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?

Because for cultural reasons there are only a few dozen or a most a few hundred combinations that humans like and consider significant (123456, 654321, 666666 etc) and many millions that they don't. On a large golf course I paint just a hundred blades of grass red and then drive a golf ball, the ball will almost certainly come to rest on a green blade of grass not red.

> 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.

The coin has no way of knowing if it came up heads or tails before, it's always 50/50. I just flipped a true coin 999,999 times and it came up heads every time, what are the probability of that happening? Answer, 100%, it just happened, I just saw it, my confidence that it happened it total, 100%. Probability is about the future not the past. The probability that the next flip is heads is 50/50 (In the real world I'd suspect it was a two headed coin but that's another matter)

John K Clark jonkc@att.net