What Are the Odds That These 50 Random Events Will Happen to You?
Millions of Americans buy lottery tickets each year, even though most people know their chances of winning are slim at best. Why do they bother, when taking home the grand prize is less likely than dying in a plane crash or being struck by lightning? It's probably because humans are not particularly good at understanding probability, especially when it comes to guessing the odds of things that could happen in their lives.
Generally speaking, this deficiency is due to three very human problem-solving crutches: representativeness, availability and anchoring. With representativeness, we base assumptions on similarities or overvalue a small sampling as indicative of a larger truth; availability is based on recency bias, or the assumption that because something just happened it is more likely to happen again; and anchoring is what we do when we lean to heavily into early reference points, such as going to an expensive store where a discounted article of clothing appears inexpensive in comparison to the initial price despite it still being aggressively inflated.