Statistical uncertainty as certainty

Mark Rober, who is having a good run of science and engineering videos on YouTube, posted a short note on how he embraces statistical uncertainty:

As humans we are really good at using hindsight bias to convince ourselves we are more in control of things than we really are. For example, if you give 1024 people a coin and give them 10 tries to get as many tails as possible, it’s a statistical certainty that one of them will flip 10 tails in a row (and some unlucky chap will get 10 heads in a row). And yet at that point the media will swoop in and analyze his wrist motion and dissect his training regime and he’ll write books about his life story and how it all prepared him for that moment of greatness. Pretty much all situations in life are a roll of the dice. You can/should do as much as possible to weight the dice but there is always a dice roll.


I always do everything I can to stack the dice in my favor but truly internalizing that some big part of what happens is out of my control gives me permission to just feel grateful for the experiences I’ve had and not beat myself up when things don’t go as I hoped. I can still feel happy about life even if the views aren’t what they used to be and at the same time I get to feel stoked for the person that will inevitably take my place… just hopefully later than sooner ;)