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Numbers Rule Your World: The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do by Kaiser Fung

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5Jet Crashes / Jackpots

The Power of Being Impossible

The safest part of your journey is over. Now drive home safely.

—ANONYMOUS PILOT

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000

—A QUINDECILLION

On August 24, 2001, a store clerk in Ontario, Canada, claimed a CDN$250,000 prize in the Encore lottery. On October 31, 1999, a Boeing 767 jetliner plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, leaving no survivors. On the surface, these two events—winning a fortune and losing everything—had nothing to do with each other. Except when one considers how improbable either of these events was. Statisticians who keep score tell us that the odds of winning the Encore lottery are one in ten million, roughly comparable ...

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