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Probability and Dread

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October 28, 2020 10:46 a.m.

How we make sense of probabilities in math and science is one thing. But as humans we can never separate probabilities from stakes. If the consequences of one outcome are sufficiently dire that factors inevitably into our experience of the question, even bleeding into our perception of the chances of that dark outcome occurring. Here I’ve noticed a subtle shift in recent days in people’s discussions about the outcome of next week’s election. It seems to have shifted from ‘Who’s going to win?’ or ‘Who’s likely to win?’ to ‘Can Trump still win?’

The answer to that last questions is clearly “Yes”. But the question itself is an important shift driven by the fact that in likelihood terms the evidence is now pointing overwhelmingly against the President.

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