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Players Making Decisions: Game Design Essentials and the Art of Understanding Your Players by Zack Hiwiller

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29. Probability

“Probability is the bane of the age,” said Moreland, now warming up. “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks he knows what is probable. The fact is most people have not the smallest idea what is going on round them. Their conclusions about life are based on utterly irrelevant—and usually inaccurate—premises.”

—ANTHONY POWELL, A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME

One of my favorite probability stories comes from Nobel laureate Manfred Eigen’s Laws of the Game.1 A man is about to take a long plane trip, but he is concerned about all the bomb threats and hijackings he sees on the news. He calls his insurance agent, who tells him that the risk of a bomb being on the plane is very small. Undeterred, the man asks the agent what the odds are of there ...

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