Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Reminder to Be Happy: You're Extremely Lucky to Exist at All!

I know, I know - the ex post probability of you existing is 1 (or 100%). But what about the ex ante probability of you existing?

The ex ante probability of your existence depends on how far back before your birth you go, of course, but this Canadian calculated the probably a few different ways, and he reminds us that we should consider ourselves supremely lucky just to be alive:
If you go back 10 generations (250 years) the chance of you being born at all is  at most 1 divided by 6 x 10100 or
1 in 60000000000000000000000000000000000 00000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000000000000000000000.
In gambling, even a chance of 1 to 100 is not worth a gamble.
Are you ever lucky to be alive!!
If you go back 1 million years or 40 000 generations (each generation is considered 25 years), your chance of being born is at most 1 in 1.8 x 10403167 or
18 with 403,166 zeros after the 1.
In other words your chances of existing is essentially zilch, even if we were considering this possibility only a short 250 years ago.
Right now you do exist, so the actual chance is 100%, but the predicted likelihood in the past of you being born would be essentially zero.
So, when you're having a bad day, just try to remember how lucky you are just to exist at all!

No comments:

Post a Comment