- Published on Saturday, 16 October 2010 06:52
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 2787
The average person does not truly understand probability yet it's very important in everyday life and in understanding science and religion. The human brain is wired to have expectations about things like randomness and what the chances are of something happening. One major example in religious thinking is that because life is so amazing, then it cannot have happened by chance - it must have had a creator. Likewise, a miraculous cure can happen by chance and it was a coincidence that a particular person (saint or god) was prayed to. Think of how many times people are prayed for and nothing happens.
One very common (incorrect) belief is that it's very unlikely for a coin toss to result in (say) 8 heads in a row. But no, it's quite common. And the math has been proven many times. One of my favourite books on this subject is "The Drunkard's Walk - How Randomness Rules our lives" by Leonard Mlodinow. Although Mlodinow has a Ph.D. in Physics, he makes the subject very understandable although not everyone will want to read an entire book on the subject.
The key point is that the human mind tries to make patterns of events and we sometimes get it wrong when applying the pattern to predicting what will happen or even what has happened. And all of us do this - not just religious people.
But now there is a video where the subject is discussed - produced by the BBC and put on line here - entertaining and educational!
Probability can be analysed using reason - we just have to resist going on intuition; we should apply our mind - not jump to conclusions.