What percentage of people could do this, if they their life depended on it?

I just read an article about how difficult it is for a person to run a 4:00 mile, and how not just one quality but many, such as natural talent, character, relentlessness, and commitment. I’m pretty sure that if I had to run a mile in 4:00 minutes or I’d be burned at the stake, I still wouldn’t be able to do it. I was wondering what you think the odds of the average 25 year old male being able to do something like run a 4 minute mile under the pain of a horrible death is?

-Run a 4 minute mile after a year of personal training and three trials allowed.
~1 in 10,000.

-Write a single book that sells 10 million copies in the next twenty years; not allowed to purchase more than one copy of your own book.
~1 in 1,000.

-Be able to slam dunk a basketball on a standard height rim at least 5 times out of 10 trials after a year of training.
~1 in 1,000

-Score 42-45 on the MCAT, with two years of preparation and tutoring provided for free, and five attempts allowed.
~1 in 500

-Win the Fields Medal (must be done before age of 40).
~1 in 10,000

Also, some random probabilities, this time with reference to the 25 year old random male or female (either one/or average), but without the element of them having to do so…just living their lives.
-That he or she dies in the next year.
~1 in 1000
-That he or she will make a hundred million dollars in the next 10 years, not with inheritance.
~1 in 100,0000
-That he/she will have sex with 100 men/women over the next 20 years, not through prostitution.
~1 in 5,000
-That he/she will become a full university professor.
~1 in 5,000
-That he/she will become a United States Congressperson (either U.S. Senate or U.S. House)
~1 in 10,000
-That he/she will have more than 8 kids with one spouse.
~1 in 1000
-That he/she will have a Wikipedia entry in the next 20 years.
~1 in 5,000

Which ones do you think almost definitely have a worse than 10% chance of someone from a/your typical public high school graduating class (size 500) either being able to achieve/successfully achieving a listed task?

Sorry, I posted in the wrong forum.:smack:

That’s actually pretty close. In 2007, it was around 1 in 971 in the United States.

Moved from GQ to IMHO


Odds of people responding to this thread, 3/390, so far.

As of Feb. 2011, only 1192 men worldwide have run sub four for a mile.(PDF) Certainly none on only a year of training.

are these your WAG’s or is there a cite? i’m doubtful on a lot of these odds, most glaringly that it’s only twice as unlikely to become a congressman than a college professor.

(actually MOST glaringly is how similar and perfect-numbered these odds are)

I love that you quote these with the same odds. I just love it.

Hint: The odds for the top one should be about 1 in a billion. Maybe 1 in 500,000,000 if we’re feeling generous.

Technically, this one has odds of 1:1 since there’s no barrier to creating a Wikipedia entry about anything.

For all of them, we need to remember that there’s an extra motivation in the OP. Most folks will write a bestseller, or else they’ll do a less exciting job. The OP suggests that they’ll write as though their life depends on it.

The central question is, how much does success depend on motivation?

Unfortunately, the OP lists things that generally are either (a) physically impossible for large swaths of the public (dunking, 4-minute mile) or (b) almost entirely luck (writing a bestseller). And winning the Fields medal is actually both.

The only one I could see being even remotely within the odds he stated is the MCAT one. If someone crammed for two years with sufficient motivation that type of score is probably possible.

Sure–thus the estimate that, even with that crazy motivation, only 1 in 10,000 people could do it.

I have absolutely no idea whether that’s a reasonable guess or not. But its reasonableness cannot be determined by looking just at how many people have actually run a 4-minute mile.

It’s a terrible guess. Like Jas09 said, most of that stuff is impossible for 99.9% of the planet. No amount of “I will put a bullet in your brain unless you do it” motivation will make a difference.

Well, he has a point. 99.9% is 1 in 1000. So 1 in 10,000 is only 10% of those.

I still think those odds are too low.

As Jas points out, if your claim is that the four-minute mile is impossible for 99.9% of the population, you think ten times as many people can do it as the OP does :).

Pretend a bar is sitting over the last 9.

Only if you discount the idea of it being deleted within a day.

All you need is to create two authoritive looking sites to cite, one positive and one “negative”, then make hyperlinks from other wikipedia pages.

Give me a name, any name and I’ll have it on wikipedia for at least a month.

Odds are way too high. Motivation doesn’t mean squat when it comes to writing a book, or getting anyone to buy it. Maybe you could concoct a way to sell your book for $0.01 and get your “I’ll die if you don’t buy my book” concept out there.

Odds are way too low. In my High School, we had about 1,500 students and a bunch of them could dunk without any dedicated training at all. Basically any healthy athletic male over 6’ tall has a shot at dunking.

Nah, the odds against this are far more astronomical than that.

If I woke up tomorrow in the body of a 25 year old, and had 15 years to win the Fields Medal, I doubt my odds would be that good - and I’ve already got a Ph.D. in mathematics, which puts me in a hell of a lot better starting position than the average bear.

The odds against an average 25 year old would be astronomical.

The Wikipedia entry sounds easy. Just go buy a couple guns and a bunch of ammo and head to a crowded theater and shoot it up. You’d definitely have a Wikipedia entry although your life would probably be unhappy in the aftermath.