Possibility Theory

At school, we are endlessly taught probability theory, which I have to say I quite like. What I have discovered recently, is Possibility Theory. Which we are not taught. Probability theory trains us to believe that the most probable event is the one that will happen, and the less probable won’t. E.g. You have a 95% chance of getting cancer if you don’t take this little blue pill. It clouds our mind. We could be one of the 5% who won’t get cancer. In which case there is 100% chance we won’t get the cancer! Not that I would recommend the little blue pill for anyone, but you get the idea.

So you can open your mind by thinking of all the possible explanations for something, instead of just the most probable explanations. You can test out any possibility by saying “This is my theory for the time being. Let’s see if things that I witness and experience fit my theory”. It is surprising how often something seemingly impossible actually fits what is happening  around you. It is like bringing down a Berlin wall in your mind.

I find myself pointing out possibilities to people around me all the time. All our day to day conversations are habitually centred on probability, not possibility, and it narrows our minds so much.

It also influences the outcome! This tallies with what Bill Wood (see Project Camelot interview) was saying, which I now understand. That by being open to every possibility, you can sort of intercept the process and influence the outcome, thus opening up the existing possibilities to differing probabilities than they would otherwise have had. I think the modern phrase “self fulfilled prophesies” describes it. But it is all explainable using Maths.

I will always remember playing dice games with my son, when aged about 3. He designed the game. Somehow he always got the sixes and I got the ones, so he always won. I sort of wanted to lose, and he wanted to win. After a while he felt sorry for me, and generously he said the 1 could be worth 19 points! From then on, he got the 1’s and I didn’t. It was way outside the realm of randomness in dice throwing.

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