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iPod classic on shuffle
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Re: iPod classic on shuffle

Harold Bissonette wrote:
My point was that although in theory a sequence like 123456 is as likely as any other, in practice it is less likely to happen than a semi-pattern such as the one as I suggested (say three closely grouped numbers and three more evenly spread out). A look at any previous results would confirm this. So, I think it is possible to at least narrow down your odds of winning, even though your chances would still be extremely unlikely - just less so. I would imagine that there is a mathematical theory that would at least in part explain this, but am certainly no expert.

Not to be antagonistic, but are you basing your "look at any previous results" on an actual study? Because I've never come across anything which would confirm or even hint at that.

Perhaps an easier way of understanding the probabilities is to remove the numbers painted on those balls entirely, as their sole purpose is to distinguish one ball from the next and possess no sequential/factorial/etc. correlation to each other. So if, over the numbers, we randomly assigned painted each ball with the representation of an animal, (1 = grizzly bear, 2 = squid, 3 = porpoise ... 23 = salmon, 24 = raccoon, 25 = flamingo... 38 = dung beetle, 39 = fruit bat, 40 = salamander, etc.), you probably wouldn't expect there to be any such "semi-patterns" you spoke of before, would you? Your brain might, however, start to suggest to you that patterns exist where in fact they do not. Maybe you would notice that never does anyone ever win with exclusively land creature balls and deduce that you could increase your chances of winning by ensuring that each combination has at least one bird or fish. This would merely be your brain trying to find a logical pattern where one does not exist...any combination of six land creatures, six non-vertebrates, etc. would have exactly the same chance of winning as any randomly chosen combination.

Hopefully that non-numeric perspective helps make sense of why the statistical theory must hold true in practice. And even if not, at least now you can least be somewhat amused at the thought of a lottery player leaning forward towards the TV, stub in sweaty hand, desperately pleading "come on porpoise!"

Jul 10, 2011, 13:14


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