What is the weather next week?
Who do you think will win the championship?
Where will I get the best return on my investment?
Call them forecasts.
Call them calculated guesses.
Call them prophecy.
Call them what you will, but the field of statistical probability is complex and 50/50 is rarely what it seems.
I am always mystified by the outrage and surprise at the latest Wall Street Scandal of the day. Outside of the clear frauds and pyramid schemes and such – when a big firm crashes the excuse is always “market forces” – we zigged…they zagged. In other words a 50/50 bet…at best.
We do our best to forecast – as do our clients – and then countries go blooie and our bets get screwy.
Same with social forces. Look at the various Springs of this year – read the optimistic reports from the field and read the news and commentary today – not many got it right – 50/50? Not close.
What about elections? Anyone want to predict the US outcome?
And yet we still pretend that we can – we pontificate – we preach – we go on and on about what is and what will be…and frankly? We don’t have an effin clue.
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Niels Bohr
So bottom line – are you ready to predict? Anything?
Here is a paragraph from an article I read on predicting sports events…
“The odds of surviving Russian roulette are better: 1 in 64, provided you get to the last empty chamber. (If you continue to play, you still have better odds of survival doing it another half-dozen times). You’d be better off betting that you will roll snake eyes on a pair of dice – 10 times in a row.
In fact, there is a better chance of getting hit with a meteor or killed by hail (which happens to one in every 5 million people).
You are billions of times more likely to bowl a 300 game (about 1 in 11,000), win an Olympic gold medal (1 in 662,000) or get a royal flush in a five-card poker hand (1 in 649,739).”
There is a reason Las Vegas exists and the casinos of the world are flush with cash.
So what’s the lesson?
Always take the shot…the gamble…you have to be in it to win it…when the prize is real – when the stakes make sense…but lets lose the officious, dogmatic crap that sounds good in conferences and in trade pubs but is no better at the end of the day than throwing darts.
Our business and personal lives will be the better for the betting on positive futures where hard work and focus can make the odds work in our behalf and the better for letting go of ethereal, ephemeral guessing that at the end of the day – makes no real difference if we end up right or wrong.
What do you think?