Friday, February 3, 2012

That's Not What Random Means

Does RANDOMNESS exist? According to the society of neuroscience "randomness" is referred to is a neuroscience of chance.  The society goes on to explain Neuroscience as," the study of the nervous system and how it advances the understanding of human thought, emotion, and behavior"(Society of Neuroscience). The article "How Randomness Rules Our World and Why We Cannot See It" is written by  Michael Shermer.  Shermer compares probability to what we typically view as chance or luck; and explains how the brain has a "natural tendency to rationalize irrationally." Below is an excerpts of the article as it explains in greater detail: 
"Imagine that you are a contestant on the classic television game show Let’s Make a Deal. Behind one of three doors is a brand-new automobile. Behind the other two are goats. You choose door number one. Host Monty Hall, who knows what is behind all three doors, shows you that a goat is behind number two, and then inquires: Would you like to keep the door you chose or switch? Our folk numeracy—our natural tendency to think anecdotally and to focus on small-number runs—tells us that it is 50–50, so it doesn't matter, right? Wrong. You had a one in three chance to start, but now that Monty has shown you one of the losing doors, you have a two-thirds chance of winning by switching. Here is why. There are three possible three-doors configurations: (1) good, bad, bad; (2) bad, good, bad; (3) bad, bad, good.  In (1) you lose by switching, but in (2) and (3) you can win by switching. If your folk numeracy is still overriding your rational brain, let’s say that there are 10 doors: you choose door number one, and Monty shows you door numbers two through nine, all goats. Now do you switch?  Of course, because your chances of win­­ning increase from one in 10 to nine in 10." 

The excerpt above basically states divine science is not the cause of luck; and that  luck does not exist.  For the average person who believes in "luck," this passage could be a little difficult to understand. Let me attempt to explain my prospective on what is said. Pretend your a contestant on national TV game show like "The Price is Right." Hundreds of onlookers and contestants are in the audience awaiting the opportunity to play; they are hoping you don't get the right answer so they can have a shot at winning the prize.  Their are also millions of people watching you on the TV game show; subliminally trying to transmit the answer they think is correct to you...In this moment it's likely you wish you spent more time concentrating in your high school math class on the probability questions.  This is in essence what the article is attempting to explain.  Luck is a form of  probability.  The article further explains by quoting a book written by psychiatrist,  Leonard Mlodinow of the California Institute of Technology called "The Drunkard’s Walk"

The “Monty Hall Problem” is just one of many probability puzzles physicist Leonard Mlodinow of the California Institute of Technology presents in his delightfully entertaining new book The Drunkard’s Walk (Pantheon, 2008). His title employs the metaphor (sometimes called the “random walk”) to draw an analogy between “the paths molecules follow as they fly through space, incessantly bumping, and being bumped by, their sister molecules,” and “our lives, our paths from college to career, from single life to family life, from first hole of golf to eighteenth.” Although countless random collisions tend to cancel one another out because of the law of large numbers—where improbable events will probably happen given enough time and opportunity—every once in a great while, “when pure luck occasionally leads to a lopsided preponderance of hits from some particular direction ... a noticeable jiggle occurs.” We notice the improbable directional jiggle but ignore the zillions of meaningless and counteracting collisions.

This article in my opinion, says a lot about nothing.  Throughout the reading the author does not disprove luck; or prove how probability is really the source of  randomness.  I do not agree with Shermer's theory. I  doubt the public has the capacity to change our "natural tendency to think anecdotally."(Michael Shermer).  Especially since it is as Shermer states, "NATURAL TENDENCY."   However, if the purpose of this article is to throw a monkey wrench in the faith machine for the believers of luck; it may have raised a brow.  Their could be some mathematical science to life's happenstance, In my personal opinion the author, Michael Shermer went mining for oil in a bath tub. Great idea but your map is wrong!  Please see the full article and judge for yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment