“Do we live in a world of magic or is it just chance?”[ CITATION Fis10 l 2057 ].This is the burning question that presenters from ‘Radio lab’ tryto answer as they follow up a story of two young girls both calledLaura Buxton. Their story portrays what most people would call ‘amiracle’ but do not attempt to question any further. However,statisticians such as Deborah Nolan and Jade Coral attempt to provethat this, together with other ‘miracles’ like winningconsecutive lotteries aren’t miracles but probable occurrences thatcan be predicted using statistics. Deborah utilises a practical testof flipping a coin 100 times and recording the results and comparingthem with faked outcomes of the similar dimensions. Through herknowledge of the nature of randomness, she picked out the correct setof outcomes to demonstrate that ‘unpredictable’ situations canactually be predictable. The presenters then contact Jay Koehler whointroduces them to ‘the blade in the grass paradox’ which viewsmiraculous outcomes from a wider perspective. Turns out that theyaren’t miracles at all but they were bound to happen even if it isthrough a very small possibility. The show concludes that ‘miracles’only exist because people choose material that coincides with theirdesired outcomes instead of viewing the situation from a biggerpicture. There is always a chance that something unexpected withhappen even through the slimmest of chances.
Edwin is a 21 yearold university student living in New York with his parents in a smallapartment building. Edwin can be described as an athletic, social andoutgoing person who loves sporting and having fun with friends whennot committed to his studies. Since his childhood days, he has been astaunch basketball fan and specifically NBA team Miami Heat. Hereckons that other than his love for self, family and friends,basketball makes him feel complete and at peace. He played the gamein his middle and high school days but quit after joining college dueto a serious knee injury that deemed him unfit to play. This affectedhis morale terribly and took him a lot of time to heal, bothphysically and psychologically. His love for basketball however didnot die as he followed his team’s performances and progress in theleague. His friends kept on teasing him about how his love for thegame would one day make him do something very stupid all in the nameof basketball.
One of the friends in his inner circle is Stewart who unlike himloves football and is active in almost all social activities around.Stewart is a gambler particularly in online sport betting where aperson stakes a certain amount of money against the odds of a givenoutcome which if correct, would return them more money. Stewart hasbeen in the industry for at least four years getting mixed resultsfrom his endeavours. He introduced Edwin to the lucrative industry intheir second college semester betting on both football and basketballgames in the country which earned them good money and also cost themtremendously on occasions. None the less, the idea of placing theirmoney on a game that assured them returns was still enticing to theduo. One summer afternoon, Stewart approached Edwin with a proposalto place a $150 bet on twenty-five games that would return them$15500 after the games end later in the night. This offer was veryattractive but a big risk to take. After a couple of minutespondering on the idea, they decided to take the risk but had littlehopes that they would succeed. Later in the evening, Stewart, whohad used his account for the bet got a notification informing himthat he had won $15500 from their bet? They could hardly believetheir luck considering how hard it is to get 100% success on a largenumber of bets. Failure of one would make the whole bet void and noreturn is given. They split the returns and enjoyed themselves overthe weekend with friends.
Stewart and Edwin’scase is not unique but one that is rare in majority of online sportbetting sites. This is because the possibility of predicting twentyfive games that have not yet been played over a wide range of choicesis very low. It is almost impossible to most online gamblers as aresult of its very high risk and a low probability of success.According to ‘the blade of grass paradox’ however, there arenumerous correct outcomes in any game. The choice of these correctoutcomes before the game is a big challenge especially if one looksat the odds generated for teams which in most times affect thedecision-making of a gambler. Having one hundred correct predictionsis also a possibility but one that possesses particularly high riskswhich are unattractive to gamblers. However, it is widely known thathigh risks equal high risks, a case that also applies on gamblingactivities.
Fisher, D. (Composer). (2010). Stochasticity. [Radiolab, Performer, & R. Williams , Conductor] New York, U.S.A.