What are the Odds?

Sun, 01/26/2014 - 09:35 -- edamato


To those who tried to comfort me when I was diagnosed by saying "it could be worse," "everyone has something," or "at least you don't have..."

What are the Odds?

She has seven girls, the next child must be a son!

Pick tails! The odds of another head are next to none!

PLEASE just loan me enough for one more play.

I have to win soon. I’ve been at this machine all day!


And you claim that mathematics is useless—

You want to keep losing the lottery in ignorance.

So here is a lesson,

For all of you who did not listen.

In statistics, if the probability that something happens,

Like whether or not you get a Harvard acceptance,

Is not affected by something else’s occurrence,

Like that you tripped in a third grade performance,

Then the two events are independent

And the fall no longer matters for the college applicant.

In that way, independent probabilities seem forgiving and kind,

But the calculated pardoning is cold as ice and blind.

While it ignores your mistakes in granting what you desire

When handing out misfortune it overlooks suffering prior.

No matter how many times you lose to life’s slot machine,

A definite end to loss never will be seen.


The woman hit by a drunk driver

And is only questionably a survivor—

When it comes to her chances of living, it’s

irrelevant that she survived Auschwitz.


Two people stand in a field

One has injuries barely healed

The other beats his workers.

When the storm thunders,

If the men stand alike,

Where will lightning strike?


It did not matter that the child took five shots of insulin a day,

It did not even matter that his dog had run away.

All that had happened was done.

The day leukemia won.


When the gods throw fate’s dice

Never think they can’t roll snake eyes twice.

A silver lining, perhaps too thin:

It is also possible to win and win.



Each child has a .0128% chance of developing lukemia.

Each child has a 1% chance of developing juvenile diabetes.

Both diseases are completely unrelated to environment and strike entirely by chance.

A diabetic child has a .0128% chance of developing blood cancer. A child with lukemia has a 1% chance of his or her immune system beginning the systematic destruction of insulin producing cells.

Need to talk?

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