"probability" is a concept of deception.

The "probability" of being struck by lightning is so small that no individual should ever be struck by lightning. Yet, individuals are struck every year. The same can be said of winning the lottery, yet individuals do win.

"probability" has nothing to do with individual specific cases! For specific people and cases, "probability" vanishes.

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Wait, you have a dad? And did not spring forth full-grown and in full armor, from the head of Zeus? Not following this argument.

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Sep 18Liked by William M Briggs

Probability exists, randomity may not.

Unless one has control over ALL forces which can come into play, then there is a greater than zero chance that the outcome will not be as forecast. My guess is that even in a vacuum chamber in a 'zero' gravity space environment, 'shit happens' and your experiment screws up.

There is always a greater than zero probability that the flipper will not work. You may be able to explain "what went wrong" but I guarantee that something will.

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Very nice. When I was a kid (maybe around 10 or 11) I learned how to flip a quarter such that it always landed with the launch face showing. I didn’t set out to do that, I just wanted to make a nice, neat coin flip (there wasn’t much to do where I grew up) and started to notice that it always landed the same way relative to its initial position. I could never figure out if the coin rotated the same number of times each flip, or somehow always just an even number of times. I suspect the former as being more likely.

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It feels like a leap from "the more control over the variables you have, the more certain of the outcome you can be" to say "there is no probability" but I see what you mean by it. I like what you're doing here. I think others might just get caught up on the semantics of the language. You do however say "there is no probability *for this machine*" which is what is crucially important.

The only thing I would note is that we tend to think we're closer to certainty than we really are. It seemed that way even in your video when you would say "heads" *before* the coin landed, only to be fooled by the last one. You admit that the machine needs adjustments which is perfectly reasonable and important, but before that failure you *seemed* pretty confident in your machine.

Either way. I like the message. I just tend to prefer more pragmatic language like "this machine has a very high probability of landing on heads" no matter how well you *believe* you are controlling the variables. There's always the chance of the unknown unknown variable that can ruin it for you.

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