Friday, May 22, 2009

Probability and Publication


Meet my nephew, his appearance belies his amazing talent. You see he single-handedly wrote "Jock of the Bushveld".

Okay, let's be serious.

If he had what would you think? Genius? Put him in charge of the Reserve Bank?

A lot of you would. You see it is human nature to establish a connection between an outcome and skill, when what you witness is merely random.

In the above analogy, we will accept that my nephew probably will have no problem typing. Let's say that "Jock of the Bushveld" has 200,000 letters, it is also feasible that my nephew could hit the keyboard this many times. All he needs to do is hit the keys in the exact order.

Impossible? No. Very possible, you just need many billions, perhaps trillions of efforts or nephews. This logic applies to evolution, most observations and explains why you may even meet a few well qualified idiots. I might be one of them. Just dumb luck. that is why true skill only manifests after an entire career.

“The lucky fool might have benefited from some luck in life; over the longer run he would slowly converge to the state of a less-lucky idiot. Each one would revert to his long-term properties.” - Nassim Taleb, Fooled by Randomness

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