What are the odds?


We humans are not very good at estimating our risks. Are you one of those people who worries about a shark biting you? Do you wonder how likely it is that you'll get that hole in one? Which is more likely, and are they even close? Have you ever found a four-leaf clover? Are you more likely to be audited by the IRS or choke to death on a ham sandwich? What's safer, driving or flying in a plane? Do you by Powerball tickets -- after all, somebody wins, right? Are you more likely to hit that number or be killed in that shark attack? Of course, this all comes from my curiosity about the over the pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the very rare risk of a blood clot. Spoiler alert: it's 1 in 100,000 but if you don't get vaccinated and you unfortunately actually contract Covid-19, not only is your risk of dying much higher, the risk of a blood clot drops to 1 in 6. I once read Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos, an excellent book that I recommend strongly. Even if you consider yourself to be fairly literate, you may be innumerate, like I am. I've gone back to this book many times to keep reminding myself when I recognize that I've slipped back into my innumerate ways. We are all subject to irrational thinking and believing something because it just makes sense to us. Sometimes, we're wrong about that. Just sayin'. Here, for your enlightenment and entertainment is an interesting list. I hope you are surprised by something in it. The odds of ~ ~ ~ Dying from a shark attack: 1 in 7,000,000. Winning the Powerball jackpot: 1 in 292,201,338 Dying because an asteroid lands on you: 1 in 1,900,000 Being struck dead by lightning: 1 in 138,849 Getting a blood clot from the J&J vaccine: 1 in 100,000 Dying from sun (or heat) exposure: 1 in 13,729 Finding a four-leaf clover: 1 in 10,000 Getting a hole in one: 1 in 5,000 Choking to death: 1 in 3,138 Being audited by the IRS: 1 in 250 Dying in a car crash: 1 in 107 Dying from the flu: 1 in 70 Getting a blood clot from birth control pills: 1 in 20 Getting a blood clot from a COVID infection: 1 in 6.25 Two people in a group of 23 sharing a birthday: 1 in 2 Interesting, isn't it? Next time you're in a large group -- and I know it may be a while yet -- try the birthday thing. And good luck in Powerball. You gotta be in it to win it, they say. Peace and love.


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