# From election upsets to climate chaos, rolling the dice helps us appreciate the odds

phys.org | 7/23/2018 | Staff
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"He [God] does not play dice," quipped Albert Einstein, but for mortals chance is part of life. We cannot experience, measure and predict with absolute certainty. We may win a prize in a Christmas raffle. There's also a small but real chance of being struck by lightning.

Statistics enables understanding of numerical data, including probabilities. But it is also a subject worthy of university degrees and entire careers. Statistics can be complex, and it can be ignored and misunderstood.

#### Dice - Gateway - Statistics - Chance - Sixes

But a simple dice can provide a gateway to basic statistics. And not just your chance of rolling two sixes. A dice can tell you about opinion polls, risk, wages and even starlight.

You're probably familiar with a six-sided dice—a cube with sides numbered from one to six. The chance of rolling each number is one in six, or 16.67%. Conversely, the chance of not rolling a six is five in six, or 83.33%. In other words, you could roll a six but more often you won't. Easy? Perhaps not.

#### American - Nate - Silver - Election - Forecasts

Back in 2016, American statistician Nate Silver, famed for his election forecasts, gave Donald Trump a 28.6% chance of victory. Obviously his prediction strongly favored Hillary Clinton, but didn't rule out Trump. In fact, the odds of a Trump win were better than the odds of rolling a six.

If you had to lay money on rolling a six, you would perhaps bet against it but not be unduly surprised if you lost. And yet many people believe Trump's victory proved Nate Silver "wrong".

#### Appreciation - Odds - Risk - Lukewarmers - Climate

Our appreciation of odds can also be distorted when risk is involved. So-called "lukewarmers" acknowledge climate change is real, but consistently favor the minority of projections that result in least warming and smallest costs. Hoping for the best is understandable, but should you bet serious money on rolling a six? Again, no.

Simple statistics...