Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 3

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Part One of this series of posts introduced the idea that natural probabilities for life events like a cancer diagnosis or a traffic accident are counter-intuitively very predictable in the aggregate, although usually not individually. Part Two demonstrated how a low-probability and very skewed random event begins, after a lot of time and repetitions, to look very “normal” because of… Read more »

Free trade #1 – Assume everything is fungible

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With free trade hitting the news in conjunction with the President’s recent visit to the Davos conference, I was looking again to see if either side could identify the best arguments for the other side of the debate. Advocates don’t like to give press to strong ideas from the other side, so too often the ideas get passed by. In… Read more »

Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 2

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In Part One of this series, I suggested that you imagine what happens when a wonky die is rolled over and over again. Cancer probabilities are kind of wonky this way, with a low probability of happening, followed by an unpredictable course when it kicks in, possibly including death. The mathematical principle illustrated here is called the Central Limit Theorem…. Read more »

Remembering Lenore and George Romney

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With Mitt Romney possibly returning to politics to run for U.S. Senator from Utah, and with his niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel as current Chair of the Republican National Committee (although she has now dropped the “Romney” at the President’s behest), I decided to engage in a little remembrance as a demonstration on how political positions can change 180 degrees, and… Read more »

Diversions: Kansas City to Iceland non-stop

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IcelandAir just announced the addition of three-times weekly in-season non-stop flights from Kansas City to Reykjavik, and from there you can connect to several primary and secondary cities in Europe. We have flown this route twice in recent years out of Minneapolis, and since I had already written up some tips for friends in the past, I thought I would… Read more »

Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 1

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I have posted recently about the lotteries that you will likely lose and the lotteries you have already won. In this post I want to talk about the math of a lottery you might win, but really do not want to. And understanding the math here is to get to a closer understanding of probability and fate in nature. Every… Read more »

The probability of coincidence

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I have a series of posts coming up about the probabilities attached to the “out of left field” events that hit your life like cancer, how to understand the statistics, and how we have attached various personal “theodices” (the “justice of God”) to these events. Some of that is a bit of downer, so I thought I would post a… Read more »

Income inequality and the Rule of 72 – part 3

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“If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality.” Entrepreneur and investor Nick Hanauer. [1] Part One of this series looked at how some basic compounded income growth projections with fairly-low rate differentials could alone result in fast-widening income inequality, and then Part… Read more »

You are a lottery winner!

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In an earlier post I described why you are probably not a big lottery winner, but there is one case in which you already are one. The mathematical odds in favor of YOU being here to read this were incredibly low. Yet Poisson’s Law of Large Numbers presented in that earlier post, paired with an understanding of birth rates and… Read more »

Worth a listen: A Swedish singer-songwriter with my name

I was in Malmö, Sweden (which is just across the strait from Copenhagen, Denmark), a few years ago when I came across a concert notice for a local Swedish singer-songwriter who coincidentally shares my name, Richard Lindgren. We had to leave Malmö, his hometown, the next day and missed seeing him perform, but I have been buying his music ever since…. Read more »