Subject: My 'Long Odds' Inquiry
From: "Dexter C. Whittinghill"
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 18:03:20 -0400
To: isostat@oberlin.edu

Folks,

Thanks to those who responded.  I will paste in and attach my 'summary' piece.

Dex

Long Odds Query (April 15, 2002)

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Folks,

I just cant find one of those tables with the small probabilities like

death by being struck by lightning
death by being in a car accident
death by falling on a sharpened pencil
etc.

We have one of those BIG lottery jackpots here and I got a call.

A quick reply would be great.  Web site or textbook would be fine.

Send it to everyone because we could all use this at the tip of our fingers.

Dex

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Responses:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

About 1 in 2.5 million for the chance of being struck by
lightning sometime in one's lifetime (probably more for
golfers who stand under trees when it rains :) ). I don't 
have a source, unfortunately, for this number.

For the Powerball lottery, one is 30-35 times more likely
to be struck by lightning in one's lifetime than to win
the Jackpot on a single play.

Roger Johnson
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science

NOTE after I asked Roger for a source:

The _Star Tribune_ (Minneapolis/St. Paul) newspaper metro edition gave the 1
in 2.5 million chance of
being "hit by lightning someday" in an article which appeared on p. 18A,
June 22, 1994. Values in newspapers 
are not the most reliable, but . . .

On another note, McGervey, John (1986), _Probabilities in Everyday Life_,
Ivy Books, NY gives a number of 
such probabilities (with no references). For example:

Table 14-3, p. 229, gives "Activies with a One-in-a-million risk of death":

 driving (auto) - 60 miles with no seat-belt or 120 miles with a seat
belt

 motorcycling - 2 miles without helmet, 5 miles with helmet

 flying - accident during one takeoff and landing

Roger

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The last time I did this, I had the following:

In Ohio the probability of winning Lotto is: 1/10737573 or 
00000009313. (We choose 6 no.'s from 47 choices)

Auto accident death-
Men - .000231, women .000104 You are 2.2 times more likely to die in auto 
accident this year if you are male than female. You are 2480 times more 
likely to die in a motor vehicle accident death than win the Lotto. The 
probability of dying as a result of lightening in 1990 was .000000298 which 
means you are 3 times more likely to die as a result of lightening than win 
the LOTTO.

The above auto accident deaths and lightening are frequency based probs 
from Statistical Abstracts. The auto accident data was the most recent at 
the time of stat abstracts. Statistical Abstracts is generally available 
at the reference desk of the university library. It is also available on 
the web, but it is much slower to read because all the tables are part of a 
huge pdf file that takes a while to load and update as you scroll the pages.

http://www.census.gov/statab/www/

I hope this helps -
John Holcomb

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

This is from the book True Odds by James Walsh
Over the course of an average lifespan, the odds that you will die from 
-a flesh eating bacteria      1 in 1000000
-pesticide poisoning     1 in 200000
-AIDs contracted from blood transfusion    1 in 96000
-drinking water with EPA limit of chloroform  1 in 60000
-heart disease from eating a broiled steak/week   1 in 48000
-a lightning strike     1 in 30000
-cancer from eating a peanut butter sandwich/day  1 in 5000 
-disease caused by drinking one beer a day  1 in 1000
-living with a smoker     1 in 700
-cancer caused by background radiation on nature 1 in 700
-disease caused by indoor radon    1 in 440
-murder (if you live in a big city)    1 in 160
-a home accident     1 in 130 
-disease caused by smoking 1 cigarette/day  1 in 100
-disease caused by heavy alcohol consumption  1 in 100
-a motor vehicle accident    1 in 60 
-disease cause by smoking a pack of cigs /day   1 in 6

I hope this helps
Nate
Nathan Wetzel
Dept. of Mathematics and Computing
UW - Stevens Point

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The link below is from the National Safety Council and may be what you're
looking for. Caution: It's rather slow loading but should be worth the wait.

http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm


Best,
Eric Nordmoe

NOTE from Eric after I had trouble:

I was afraid of that. I had trouble with Netscape but IE worked for me.
Anyway, here's a PDF of it attached.

Best,
edn

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

In May 1996, Discover Magazine had a special issue on the Science of Risk. 
Here are direct links to two of the Discover columns. The first is a table,
so it's a quicker read. The second is an essay, but might have more figures
of the kind I think you are looking for.

"A Fistful of Risks"
http://208.245.156.153/archive/output.cfm?ID=756

"Risky Business"
http://208.245.156.153/archive/output.cfm?ID=759

We wrote some of this up for Chance News 5.05. See

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/chance_news/recent_news/chance_news_5.05.ht
ml

where we reproduced the "Risk Analysis Quiz" from Discover.

Bill Peterson

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Thanks from the reporter (all contributors deserve it):

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Thanks so much for all of your help... I can't think of another time where
someone has gone through that much trouble for a story of mine!
I was able to get you in there, though, so read the Inquirer tomorrow. After
much talk with my editors, we left out the "struck by lightning" reference.
There's so many different figures, and the worry was that the lightning
figure is for a lifetime, or at least for a year. The lottery is a group of
numbers picked on one particular day, so it's more like a game of blackjack
- or that was my editors' reasoning.
Thanks...
Kaitlin


I was quoted in the April 16th edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer (possibly just the South Jersey edition).  It was kind of a mishmash quote, but got the point across (that a lot of us play, one person wins big, and on average we all lose).

*******************************************************
Dex Whittinghill
Department of Mathematics
Rowan University
201 Mullica Hill Rd.
Glassboro, NJ  08028

phone:  856-256-4500 x3879

FAX:     856-256-4816

e-mail:  whittinghill@rowan.edu

My mailer is Novell GroupWise 5.5
*******************************************************



Folks,
 
Thanks to those who responded.  I will paste in and attach my 'summary' piece.
 
Dex
 
Long Odds Query (April 15, 2002)
 
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Folks,
 
I just cant find one of those tables with the small probabilities like
 
death by being struck by lightning
death by being in a car accident
death by falling on a sharpened pencil
etc.
 
We have one of those BIG lottery jackpots here and I got a call.
 
A quick reply would be great.  Web site or textbook would be fine.
 
Send it to everyone because we could all use this at the tip of our fingers.
 
Dex
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
Responses:
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
About 1 in 2.5 million for the chance of being struck by
lightning sometime in one's lifetime (probably more for
golfers who stand under trees when it rains :) ). I don't
have a source, unfortunately, for this number.
 
For the Powerball lottery, one is 30-35 times more likely
to be struck by lightning in one's lifetime than to win
the Jackpot on a single play.
 
Roger Johnson
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
 
NOTE after I asked Roger for a source:
 
The _Star Tribune_ (Minneapolis/St. Paul) newspaper metro edition gave the 1
in 2.5 million chance of
being "hit by lightning someday" in an article which appeared on p. 18A,
June 22, 1994. Values in newspapers
are not the most reliable, but . . .
 
On another note, McGervey, John (1986), _Probabilities in Everyday Life_,
Ivy Books, NY gives a number of
such probabilities (with no references). For example:
 
Table 14-3, p. 229, gives "Activies with a One-in-a-million risk of death":
 
 driving (auto) - 60 miles with no seat-belt or 120 miles with a seat
belt
 
 motorcycling - 2 miles without helmet, 5 miles with helmet
 
 flying - accident during one takeoff and landing
 
Roger
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
The last time I did this, I had the following:
 
In Ohio the probability of winning Lotto is: 1/10737573 or
00000009313. (We choose 6 no.'s from 47 choices)
 
Auto accident death-
Men - .000231, women .000104 You are 2.2 times more likely to die in auto
accident this year if you are male than female. You are 2480 times more
likely to die in a motor vehicle accident death than win the Lotto. The
probability of dying as a result of lightening in 1990 was .000000298 which
means you are 3 times more likely to die as a result of lightening than win
the LOTTO.
 
The above auto accident deaths and lightening are frequency based probs
from Statistical Abstracts. The auto accident data was the most recent at
the time of stat abstracts. Statistical Abstracts is generally available
at the reference desk of the university library. It is also available on
the web, but it is much slower to read because all the tables are part of a
huge pdf file that takes a while to load and update as you scroll the pages.
 
http://www.census.gov/statab/www/
 
I hope this helps -
John Holcomb
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
This is from the book True Odds by James Walsh
Over the course of an average lifespan, the odds that you will die from
-a flesh eating bacteria      1 in 1000000
-pesticide poisoning     1 in 200000
-AIDs contracted from blood transfusion    1 in 96000
-drinking water with EPA limit of chloroform  1 in 60000
-heart disease from eating a broiled steak/week   1 in 48000
-a lightning strike     1 in 30000
-cancer from eating a peanut butter sandwich/day  1 in 5000
-disease caused by drinking one beer a day  1 in 1000
-living with a smoker     1 in 700
-cancer caused by background radiation on nature 1 in 700
-disease caused by indoor radon    1 in 440
-murder (if you live in a big city)    1 in 160
-a home accident     1 in 130
-disease caused by smoking 1 cigarette/day  1 in 100
-disease caused by heavy alcohol consumption  1 in 100
-a motor vehicle accident    1 in 60
-disease cause by smoking a pack of cigs /day   1 in 6
 
I hope this helps
Nate
Nathan Wetzel
Dept. of Mathematics and Computing
UW - Stevens Point
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
The link below is from the National Safety Council and may be what you're
looking for. Caution: It's rather slow loading but should be worth the wait.
 
http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm
 

Best,
Eric Nordmoe
 
NOTE from Eric after I had trouble:
 
I was afraid of that. I had trouble with Netscape but IE worked for me.
Anyway, here's a PDF of it attached.
 
Best,
edn
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
In May 1996, Discover Magazine had a special issue on the Science of Risk.
Here are direct links to two of the Discover columns. The first is a table,
so it's a quicker read. The second is an essay, but might have more figures
of the kind I think you are looking for.
 
"A Fistful of Risks"
http://208.245.156.153/archive/output.cfm?ID=756
 
"Risky Business"
http://208.245.156.153/archive/output.cfm?ID=759
 
We wrote some of this up for Chance News 5.05. See
 
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/chance_news/recent_news/chance_news_5.05.ht
ml
 
where we reproduced the "Risk Analysis Quiz" from Discover.
 
Bill Peterson
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
Thanks from the reporter (all contributors deserve it):
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
Thanks so much for all of your help... I can't think of another time where
someone has gone through that much trouble for a story of mine!
I was able to get you in there, though, so read the Inquirer tomorrow. After
much talk with my editors, we left out the "struck by lightning" reference.
There's so many different figures, and the worry was that the lightning
figure is for a lifetime, or at least for a year. The lottery is a group of
numbers picked on one particular day, so it's more like a game of blackjack
- or that was my editors' reasoning.
Thanks...
Kaitlin
 

I was quoted in the April 16th edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer (possibly just the South Jersey edition).  It was kind of a mishmash quote, but got the point across (that a lot of us play, one person wins big, and on average we all lose).
 
*******************************************************
Dex Whittinghill
Department of Mathematics
Rowan University
201 Mullica Hill Rd.
Glassboro, NJ  08028
 
phone:  856-256-4500 x3879
 
FAX:     856-256-4816
 
e-mail:  whittinghill@rowan.edu
 
My mailer is Novell GroupWise 5.5
*******************************************************