What Are the Chances?

Musings on everyday probability

Stocks or Bonds?

March 19, 2008 By Alan J. Salzberg
A couple of posts ago, I talked about the question of whether to rent or buy (the answer: in the long run, buy; in the s...

7 letter words and 8 card suits

February 24, 2008 By Alan J. Salzberg
A recent commenter asked whether the following is true: "ETAERIO is the most likely seven-letter word to get in scrabble."   As all scrabble players know, if you use all 7 of yo...

Rent or Buy?

February 12, 2008 By Alan J. Salzberg
The answer to the age-old question, according to every grandmother out there, is "buy." But do the data really support this?   Housing as an Investment...

Throw away your cold medicine?

January 22, 2008 By Alan J. Salzberg
A recent article in the New York times touts: "Seawater Seems to Beat Medicine in Fighting Colds." The article g...

Election Math - Update

January 10, 2008 By Alan J. Salzberg
So my guess was wrong. Clinton won. The question is, was it the various selection biases and undecided voters, the measurement error (polls were on Saturday and Sunday but th...

Election Math

January 7, 2008 By Alan J. Salzberg
Today's CNN headline screams out "Obama opens double-digit lead over Clinton." When you read the article, you find that the poll,...

Where is the safest place to live?

January 1, 2008 By Alan J. Salzberg
If you figure out where to live by the crime rate, many of the safest places to live are outside the United States, where crime, though lower than it

The lottery: a tax on stupidity?

December 13, 2007 By Alan J. Salzberg
It is often quipped that the lottery is a tax on stupidity (google "lottery: tax on stupidity" and you will see what I mean). I've always been bothered by this for two reasons: 1) one of the first peo...

Hospital infections-what are the chances?

December 1, 2007 By Alan J. Salzberg
For those of us with aging parents, visits to the hospital can become somewhat routine, unfortunately. An overnight stay for minor surgery, as my father recently had, isn't particularly worrisome--exc...

Thanksgiving Brothers

November 22, 2007 By Alan J. Salzberg
I had some role in coming up with these statistics in the New York Times, though I thought it was more li...

Lost luggage - 1 in 138?

November 22, 2007 By Alan J. Salzberg
Thanksgiving is the beginning of peak travel season, and what did I read this morning? That 1 in 138 checked bags gets lost....