I’ve always enjoyed brain teasers, puzzles and paradoxes. What at first may seem straight forward, can trick our minds into believing the illogical, even though it seems perfectly plausible to the average sane person, as well as the masses. But have we been deceived into believing a lie?
A great example of this is the ‘Monty Hall Problem’, where a paradox tricked the larger part of academia who wrote into the author of the Parade Magazine piece, telling her how much of an idiot she was for her position on this probability problem. Little did the overzealous, condescending majority know, that they were the ones who were being foolish.
Without yet going into the detail of the paradox, this is the response she received:
“You made a mistake, but look at the positive side. If all those Ph.D.’s were wrong, the country would be in some very serious trouble.”
Everett Harman, Ph.D.
Turns out she was indeed correct, and the people who wrote in challenging her, no matter how ‘prestigious’ the University they attended, were still dead wrong. (note: Now you know why the movie “The Prestige”, in 2006 with Christian Bale, is so aptly named)
But don’t worry, I was tricked too. Most people are, except for those with a genius IQ. As a side note, I’ve learned that people who brag about their high IQ are not as smart as they pretend to be. I’m willing to bet being humbleness has a positive correlation with overall intellect. But I digress.
I’m a big fan of these math puzzles; lets see how many you can get right.
This next one is even more difficult. People will come up with all kinds of different answers, most of which are wrong.
How many circles do you see in this next picture?
Would you believe me if I told you there are 16?
How many “f”s are there in the sentence above?
Here is the solution. To give you a hint, most people count less than are actually present because we have learned to identity things phonetically.
The Monty Hall Problem
Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say #1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say #3, which has a goat. He says to you, “Do you want to pick door #2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?
Yes; you should switch. The first door has a 1/3 chance of winning, but the second door has a 2/3 chance. Here’s a good way to visualize what happened. Suppose there are a million doors, and you pick door #1. Then the host, who knows what’s behind the doors and will always avoid the one with the prize, opens them all except door #777,777. You’d switch to that door pretty fast, wouldn’t you?
This is the point in which a zillion people wrote in and told the OP how wrong she was, of which I alluded to earlier. Read more here
Most people are convinced that after the host opens one of the doors, that it is a 50/50 shot. But they’re wrong. The host of the show knows where the car is, and he’s always going to open a door with a goat behind it. This changes the problem completely.
Another way to look at it is this. In the beginning , you have a 33% chance of winning the car. So if you pick a door and stick with it, how could you odds increase to 50%? They can’t. If you stay you have a 33% chance of winning. And if you switch to the other door, you are basically getting a 2 for 1, since he’s always going to open the door with a goat behind it.
Most people don’t want to jinx themselves so they stay with their original decision. Game show host Monty Hall understood this and saved a bunch of money he’d otherwise have to spend on expensive cars, but overall I guess your decision ultimately comes down to if you want to drive home a car or get a new pet.
The Pareto Principle
This is a weird phenomenon that happens whether you like it or not. I’m looking at you, you 1% pharisees. What I mean by that is there are always going to be people who criticize those whom are successful. Think about it. There will, and always should be a certain portion of the population that are more successful than others.
The Occupy Wall Street folks in recent years have coined these people the One Percent, and let me tell you, they are just evil, so freaking evil! (insert sarcasm) They are so evil because they work harder than others in a world where everyone is ostensibly equal in every regard. The only problem, people are not innately equal in every ability. Some are better at this, and others, at that. It’s ridiculous to believe in equality as the liberal media implores us to do so.
This principle proves inequality. For example, at any warehouse, 80% of the workers will be lazy and only accomplish 20% of the work. Conversely, a small fraction of the workers, 20%, will do about 80% of the work. At a used car lot, 20% of the salesmen sell 80% of the cars. Etc..
80% of NBA players will score only 20% of the points, and vice versa.
The Pareto principle is a principle, named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, that specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained. Put another way, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. -Investopedia
This can apply to anything really. There are multiple youtube videos that can explain this better than I, but suppose you have a blog called joedubs.com. Only 20% of your subscribers are going to comment on your articles.
Here is another way to look at it; of those 20% of people who actually do comment on the blog, Joe is only going to respond to about 4% (20% of 20%) of the comments.
Jordan Peterson outlines this principle in regards to human productivity. 20% of the population does 80% of the work.
Zipf’s law was popularized by George Zipf, a linguist at Harvard University. It is a discrete form of the continuous Pareto distribution from which we get the Pareto Principle.
According to wikipedia Zipf’s law (/ˈzɪf/) is an empirical law formulated using mathematical statistics blah blah blah, blah, bla ,blah blah bla… Let me just give it to you straight instead of trying to impress you, as every single wikipedia entry seemingly attempts to do. I hate wikipedia sometimes. Just ignore it, and go to the next few entries of google.
For some reason, the amount of times a word is used is just proportional to one over its rank. Word frequency and ranking on a log graph follows a nice straight line. A power-law. This phenomenon is called Zipf’s Law and it doesn’t only apply to English. It also applies to other languages, like, well, all of them. Even ancient languages we haven’t been able to translate yet. And here’s the thing. We have no idea why.
Ok, now even that is not clear. Let me break it down in quantum mechanics using the zygote differendim for π squared. I’m just kidding; that is a bunch of bullshit too.