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#1




How is it statistically more likely to die in an apocalyptic asteroid strike than win the lottery?
If obviously we have lottery winners every few months or so and never in recorded history, as it is my understanding has any human died of and asteroid, then how is it statistically more likely to die in an asteroid apocalypse than win the lottery?

#2




It might help if people know the source of this statement, which I assume is here:
Quote:
Last edited by John Mace; 02082015 at 05:38 PM. 
#3




#4




I'm not sure that the statement is true. For one thing, you'd have to define what you mean by "lottery winners."
But let's say that there's a dinokiller asteroid impact every 50 million years. If it hit today and wiped out the human race, that would kill 7 billion people, so we could conclude that the expected average asteroid deaths per year is 140 people (7 billion / 50 million). If there are fewer than 140 expected average lottery winners, then you're more likely to be killed by an asteroid than to win the lottery. This is grossly oversimplified in many ways, of course, but it's the basic strategy you'd use to build the argument. 


#5




I guess I'm looking at it in an entirely unhypothetical way. Of all recorded history no one has died from an asteroid while at the same time there have been probably thousands of powerball winners (or similar lotteries). That alone would say that any persons chance of winning the lottery are better than any persons chance of dying by asteroid strike. lottery wins = frequent. Asteroid deaths = never in recorded history.

#6




At least as important, you have to define "apocalyptic asteroid strike".

#7




I would argue that apocalyptic means total annihilation of mankind.
The article i linked above makes a similar claim that on average there are 91 asteroid deaths per year. I assume they are figuring a potential asteroid strike every 100 million years to get that figure. I also have to assume they are figuring worldwide human population at a constant instead of the reality which is that homo sapiens evolved roughly 160,000 years ago with short life expectancies. As well as the fact that we haven't always had a world population of 7 billion. In fact as of 200 years ago the world population was 1/7th that. In 200 more years it could be twice that. Statistically would twice the population make an asteroid apocalypse more likely? I realize the wording of the question can mean completely different results in statistics. Such as the statistical likelihood of the same number being drawn twice in a row in the lottery is astronomically unlikely. But at the same time, per game it is statistically just as likely to happen than any other number since the numbers have no memory of the previous game. I don't think the statement is true nor do i believe the statistics. 
#8




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Maybe I can phrase it differently... If 100 people win the lottery every year, then after 50 million years, we'll have 5 billion winners. (Assuming no asteroids cause mass extinctions first). If 7 billion people die every time an asteroid hits the Earth with one asteroid every 50 million years, then after 50 million years, we'll have 7 billion deaths. Thus, by the end of the 50 million years, we expect that more people will be dead by asteroid than rich by lottery. For purposes of the math we don't really care which year all these people die in; we just know it'll happen eventually. 
#9




Although there's no recorded cases of people being killed by being struck by meteors, there were two cases of people being struck and injured by them. There were cases where animals have been killed by them. There was a case where a car was struck by one.



#10




I do understand what your saying. i do think i was thinking about it wrong, or better yet the stat itself is misleading. This stat only even makes sense when based off population. if the stat is based instead off any other population number or better yet counts mankind as a single unit then the odds suddenly become much different. 1 apocalyptic asteroid event every 100,000,000 years or .0000007 apocalyptic events every year. When that is compared to the number of lottery winners per year i think that is a more accurate statistic.

#11




I imagine that was listed on the insurance claim as "damage by falling rock".
Last edited by Lumpy; 02082015 at 08:33 PM. 
#12




Well, but if you look at it right:
An apocalyptic asteroid strike would, by definition, kill everybody, wouldn't it? (or arguably, all but 110,000 people.) So, in the event of an apocalyptic asteroid strike, you've clearly got a 100% (or as near as makes no difference) chance of dying . In the event of a Megamillions drawing, for which you have purchased a ticket, you have a 0.000000003863% chance of winning the full jackpot. (Cite: http://www.durangobill.com/MegaMillionsOdds.html because I'm much too lazy to do the math myself.) So, as you can see, the chances are much better with the asteroid. . . er . . . or something. 
#13




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#14




I think the two linked articles are making a mistake in that they're comparing the chances of being killed by an asteroid in an average lifetime with the chances of a single lottery ticket winning. It seems like comparing your lifetime chances of both would be a better comparison.
The article linked at post #2 says your lifetime chances of being killed by an asteroid are 1 in 700,000. The odds of winning the grand powerball prize is 1 in 175,223,510. So figuring an average life expectancy of about 80 if you bought a ticket every week (once you turn 18 of course, so 62 years) you'd play 3224 times which would make the chance of winning in your lifetime about 1 in 54,000. Quote:



#15




The number of lottery winners in the world is certainly way more than 140; Canada alone, based on my back of the envelope calculations, hands out more than 140 lottery prizes every year of at least one million dollars. The worldwide total is surely many times that.
And of course, it depends how much you play. Every lotto 6/49 ticket I buy confers about a 1 in 4.6 million chance of winning millions (49 pick 6, times three because you get three sets of numbers.). It draws 104 times per year, making my chances about 1 in 45,000, which beats the asteroid odds. 
#16




Why is it only the good things in life are optional?!?

#17




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#18




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The odds of a coin flip are 50/50. No matter how many times you flip it, the odds stay the same, and I'm assuming you're thinking that I'm proving myself wrong here. But while the odds of the individual flip stay the same, if you look at a series of flips, the chances of getting a given result at some point in the series increase as it gets larger. If you only care about it coming up heads once in all the flips, then more flips equals a higher probability it's possible to flip a coin ten times and not come up heads, but it's unlikely. Flip it a hundred times, and getting tails every single time usually means something is wrong with the coin or the person flipping it. So let's go to a die being rolled, standard six sided cube. Getting a six on a single roll is improbable. Getting a six on the one hundredth roll is equally improbable. But getting at least one six, somewhere in a hundred rolls? VERY probable. Move to a deck of playing cards, without jokers. Drawing a specific card, like the ace of spades, is incredibly unlikely, 1 in 52. If we use a new deck each time, it's always the same probability, the odds of any draw don't improve just like drawing against a new set of numbers each week in the lottery. But eventually, if you draw one card from a whole bunch of decks, the odds of having drawn the ace of spades at least once keep going up, and eventually it will become almost certain that you will have drawn it at least once. Playing the lottery each week doesn't mean that the odds of the final ticket someone buys the week they die is special and has a 1 in 54,000 chance, it's still at the one in 175 million odds. But the odds that one of the tickets bought, over all those years, could have won it's drawing are.... well, still really improbable, but more reasonable than before. 
#19




Trucelt writes:
> An apocalyptic asteroid strike would, by definition, kill everybody, wouldn't it? (or > arguably, all but 110,000 people.) I assume you mean all but 144,000 people (since there are religious groups that believe something like that). 


#20




I have personally known two people who won big money on lotteries, one of whom won multiple millions (and didn't piss it all away, contrary to the cliché).
Since no people ever have been killed by asteroids, and I have strong evidence that ordinary people do indeed win lotteries on a regular basis, I'm going to say you can keep your bogus statistical arguments and I'll keep on buying the occasional lottery ticket. Last edited by Shakester; 02092015 at 06:04 AM. Reason: spell fix 
#21




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#22




By comparison, Wikipedia's article on coinflipping cites an estimate that the odds of a coin landing on it's edge is about 1 in 6000.
ETA: the study cited gives the odds for a nickel, which is unmilled and comparatively wide; the odds with a quarter would be worse. Last edited by Lumpy; 02092015 at 07:28 AM. 
#23




In order to cause an apocalypse, the asteroid doesn't need to be big enough to destroy the ecosystem; it only needs to be big enough to damage civilization long enough to cause huge numbers of people to starve. All big cities consume way more food than they produce, and they import the food by trains and trucks. Disrupt the supply lines and the citizens have about a week to either leave the cities or starve.
Sure, you can estimate that a KT Extinction Event sized asteroid will hit once every 100 million years, but it's also likely that asteroids 1/10th that size hit ten times more often and asteroid 1/100th that size hit 100x more often. I would argue that 1/100 the size of the KT asteroid would be sufficient to disrupt our food supply long enough that 90% of the humans would starve. But we wouldn't go extinct. 
#24




The difference is that once the asteroid strikes, everyone's wiped out. So if you look at the thing from a longterm (like, really long term, over a time horizon where it's quite likely that an asteroid strikes) perspective, it's possible to have a situation where you have a total of seven billion people (or whatever the world's population will be at the time) dying from the asteroid strike, but the total number of lottery winners in recorded history will be lower than seven billion. Hence, the probability of being killed by the asteroid strike is greater. The fact that we have, so far, not seen people killed by asteroid strikes is simply a result of the facts that we haven't made observations long enough for the law of large numbers (over the long run, the percentage of events actually observed will approximate the theoretical probability) to kick in.
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#25




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#26




Since we're clearly not going to accept the GQ answer to the original question, at least this thread has conclusively proven that people who play the lottery have a poor understanding of statistics.

#27




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The fly in the ointment is that it's entirely possible that human beings will be already extinct before that asteroid hits earth. If the sun goes nova tomorrow and wipes out humanity then nobodyaside from maybe a few unknown individuals in prehistorywill have been killed in an asteroid strike, while there have been thousands and thousands of lottery winners. Also note that "winning the lottery" is not very well defined. Unless we define it as winning a particular lottery, like the Mega Millions lottery mentioned in the article cited by John Mace. 
#28




Quote:
If the population today was only 100,000,000 we would have an actuarial record of 1 death per year over the proposed 100,000,000 million years between asteroid strikes, making my odds of survival (or at least not being alive when the strike occurred) much better. On the other hand if the population was 100 times what it is now, my chances of dying would be much higher while my chance of winning the lottery exactly the same. That does not compute. 
#29




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#30




Grabbing impact frequency data from wikipedia, throwing it into wolframalpha and extrapolating for the odds of winning the mega millions (given a draw twice a week that you always enter) you have a 1 / 2482515 chance of winning the jackpot (according to the data also listed on wikipedia) each year. According to the graph, an impact of ~964 GT happens on average once in this period of time, this is just less than 1% of the estimated impact proposed for the KT extinction.
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i...%2C47000%7D%5D http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i...+x+%3D+2482515 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_...uency_and_risk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_crater http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega_Mi...nd_probability Last edited by dunkleosteus; 02092015 at 03:17 PM. 
#31




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Although I do realize that as this thread has advanced, my thinking has changed and i realize we arent talking about just anyone winning the lottery but rather a specific person winning the lottery, which is definitely not a relatively short or predictable process. 
#32




Quote:
A 964 Gigaton impact happens on average once every year? Like, were there 65 million of them all at once 65 million years ago to make this average, or is this an error? 
#33




the fraction I gave was the probability of winning on a given year, so I calculated the impact with the same probability.
Last edited by dunkleosteus; 02092015 at 04:40 PM. 
#34




The quote I'm reminded of is:
Quote:



#35




what if there were a single immortal human on earth doing nothing but playing mega millions twice a week. He gets 104 games a year with the probability being 1 in 285m of winning. Over the course of a 100 million year cycle he would've won approximately 36 times for every 1 apocalyptic strike. That should show that he is 36 times more likely to win the lottery than to die by asteroid strike. With his life shortened to only 80 years his probability drops to 1 in 2482515. At the same time the probability that the asteroid will strike in the same 80 year time frame is 1 in 89,370,540.

#36




Lemur866 writes:
> . . If the sun goes nova tomorrow . . . We know quite about what point in their lifecycle stars go nova, and it will not happen to the sun tomorrow. In fact, it won't ever happen to the sun. The sun is not the right sort of sun to go nova. 
#37




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#38




No matter how you tackle this one, you have to make some assumptions with affect your answer. But it certainly is possible to use certain assumptions which make death by asteroid more likely.
NASA estimated that a meteor 1km across or larger could cause the extinction of the human race. [cite] Such impacts occur on average once every 440,000 years. [cite] So the probability of it happening in the next 100 years is approximately 1/4400. Multiply this by 10 billion (expected human population) and we have 2.3 million dead. Do you think there will be more than 2.3 million people who "win the lottery" in the next 100 years? My backoftheenvelope estimate is that somebody somewhere wins more than 1 million USD in a lottery about 100 times per week. That's 5,200 per year or 520,000 in the next 100 years. I'm assuming the number of lotteries won't increase or decrease. So half a million people win the lottery in the next 100 years, which is quite a bit short of the 2.3 million expected to die from an apocalyptic asteroid strike in the next 100 years. But that's looking at the big picture, including all people on Earth, even those who never play the lottery and people who live in places that don't even have a lottery. OTOH, if you focus specifically on one American who buys one lottery ticket every week with odds of 14 million to 1 against, that person's probability of winning this year is .00037%, compared to .00023% probability of being killed by an apocalyptic asteroid strike this year. 
#39






#40




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#41




...except that US presidential elections are a heck of a lot more common than asteroid strikes. Given that the US elects a new president every 4 or 8 years, and that there have been no asteroid strikes in the entire history of the human species, and there is zero reason to expect one in the near future, your analogy fails to impress me.

#42




That's right, butSnarky_Kong wasn't referring to the event of a presidential election happening; he referred to the event of a woman being elected in one of them, which hasn't happened in recorded history. The analogy stands.

#43




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As for the sun never going nova, you neglected to consider Alien Space Bats. 
#44




I think this is only meaningful if compared in the narrow timeframe of someone's lifespan.
In 80 years, is someone more likely to win the lottery, or be killed by an asteroid? I think the math is overwhelmingly on the side of the former and not the latter. 


#45




Quote:
It is 1 man guessing the 5 numbers and megaball number that will get sucked up the tube vs an apocalyptic asteroid. Which is most probable? 
#46




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The probability that an asteroid hits the earth tomorrow (LOW) times the probability that it will kill you personally (100% or close to). The probability that someone will win the lottery tomorrow (100%, or close to) times the probability that it will be you personally (LOW). So ignore those two "close to 100%" parts, and you're (correctly) comparing the two LOW values to get the answer. The asteroid numbers just turn out to be not as low. Last edited by squidfood; 02112015 at 02:06 PM. 
#47




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Using dunkleosteus sourcery (post #30) Quote:
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Also, "The probability that an asteroid hits the earth tomorrow (LOW) times the probability that it will kill you personally (100% or close to)." Doesnt matter because its assumed that the asteroid kills everyone (apocalyptic). I think this is the proper way to compare them: Quote:

#48




The OP is ambiguous about whether he's talking about a population or a single person. And also whether he's talking over the length of a single lifetime or the entire duration of humanity.
The OP seems to be referring to something he read someplace. We really don't know what basis those folks used to derive their conclusion. Until we can at least define what the question really is there are lots of possible answers, many of which are mutually contradictory. And most are as correct as any other. My bottom line: Hey erocked, please decide what question you want to ask. Then tell us what it is. Then we can get to a single good answer. Last edited by LSLGuy; 02112015 at 06:12 PM. 
#49




Quote:
This link shows your odds for various things compared to winning the lottery. They show the odds of winning the megamillions is about 1 in 176 million. They show the odds of dying in an asteroid apocalypse at 1 in 12,500. Various other sites have various other odds for the apocalypse. Notably http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2013/02...killedanyway/ which claims a 1 in 700,000 chance. My question was how is it statistically possible for this, which dracoi showed the math used to come to this figure. Although i agree he came up with the likely formula they used i still question the parameters that were used to make that statistic. In other words i think it's a bogus statistic. The question then sort of evolved into, "What would be the proper way to figure out if an individual has a greater chance of dying in an asteroid apocalypse or winning the lottery? " I have never asked if a population of people has a greater chance of winning the lottery or dying in an asteroid apocalypse as i could unequivocally prove that we indeed have had lots of lottery winners and zero apocalypses in just the past few months. Likewise, since you asked, I'm talking about a single lifetime. And since i haven't specifically stated a number of years that constitutes a lifetime, we seem to have come to 80 years as the average lifetime, so let's go with that. i don't know what else you might consider ambiguous. This was just something i read last Friday and couldn't stop thinking about. 


#50




Quote:
My statement wasn't that something never happening before in the history of the human species means that it will never happen in the future. It was that something that last happened 65 million years ago is highly unlikely to reoccur in our lifetimes. Give or take a few million years, sure, entirely possible. Give or take a few decades? Very unlikely. 
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