Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Perplexed: I have to say, this is the last thing I expected from this particular prof., which is one reason I'm not sure how to approach it. The man is truly one of the most anti-social science, post-modern educators I've ever met. He hates "academics" and feel-good answers. We've spent 4 months doing "serious work" (probability assessment, Monte Carlo modeling, risk preference adjustment) and now he springs this one. It's out of character (and our school is too small to have TA's, so I can't put the blame there).

I don't like the offer to define the terms subjectively; It's what we call in golf a "sucker pin," so I'm sticking with accepted definitions.

luck: chance; good fortune; success due to chance

lucky: having good luck; bringing good luck

good: having desired qualities; morally excellent, virtuous; kind; beneficial; thorough; considerable; efficient, competent; reliable; orthodox and devout

Luck involves chance. Period. If chance can be put in objective terms (which is what oddsmakers do), then it's possible to manage chance. There's a chance that the dollar may devalue in the next thirty days, so if I'm in a position where my investments are at risk, I can hedge that risk by buying Euros. There's a chance my quarteback might get hurt, so I can have a backup ready to play. If the odds are against me in blackjack, I hold back and save my big bets for more favorable hands. Depending on chance is to presume that a favorable outcome will occur every time, even if it is statistically unlikely, even highly improbable. This doesn't make sense, even if it's possible for me to win on a longshot gamble from time to time.

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