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One in Ten Million!

Rare events … are NOT rare.

The modern internet has mated with the basic economics of risk and produced a frankensteinian beast. Suppose there is some awful thing that happens to people with a miniscule chance – say, once every 10 million times. It can be a car spontaneously combusting, the earth swallowing you up whole, or some awful disease striking you.

This is a rare event, and upon seeing it happen to someone your heart would break and your mind would shutter. However, in a huge world of 7 billion+ people, these miniscule events would actually happen quite regularly. In fact, we would expect to see these “rare” one-in-ten million events strike 700 times (per year, assuming an annual risk), or twice per day. With a good enough internet connection and decent enough access to modern cell phones, these twice per day awful events would hit our collective 7 billion phones quite regularly, leading everyone to think that these super-rare and horrible events are actually quite common. Where people go once they make that observation is a story for another day of course.

One Response to “One in Ten Million!”

  1. Scott says:

    In “Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow” I remember the noble prize winning author saying something like “fear is a real thing, therefore the government has a responsibility to eliminate that fear, even if the fear is irrational.” So therefore aliens and carbon dioxide and zombies and Muslims are all worth going to war with. So much for peace.

    I just saw a bit with C.S Lewis, one of the smarter guys who makes it on to television, and he quit the internet. I want to quit the internet too because I’m sick of the ads and the news and everything. But then again, the window shouldn’t be broken, and real people are really hungry, and I like smoking and thinking and eating steak I’d rather that sort of thing wasn’t taken away.

    I just got back from Cuba, where skype and snapchat, along with tattoos, are illegal. It’s a great place, everyone has healthcare and a free education, and as long as you like rice and beans, you’ll never be hungry. They also have a vaccine for lung cancer, it’s just sort of hard to explain how it works, but within 20 years everyone in the world will have it. Which is a good thing when all you can do is roll cigars, but please don’t take any pictures of the rows of people rolling cigars all day long. It gets kind of hot in there.

    It’s not that big of a deal if there is a patrol car that follows you around. He’s just making sure you are safe. Not that there is ever any crime.

    So I might not like what you say but I’ll defend your right to say it to the death, or something like that. But for the love of the old gods and the new please stop listening to the bullshit.

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