TED Conversations

TEDCRED 100+

This conversation is closed.

Could we find a way to measure luck?

Today I was shoveling snow in front of my house. Under the snow there is considerable ice, large patches, here and there. I could very easily have slipped, fallen down and injured myself, but today I was lucky. Every day people have accidents or become ill due to nothing but bad luck. Other people have good luck and continue their lives unaffected, or perhaps are better off, maybe much better off. Luck is a factor in every life, sometimes it is obvious that it is a big factor.

The scientific minded among us (I include myself) are all convinced that incidents of good luck and bad luck occur in accordance with the "laws" of probability. But we have no way of confirming this without measurements. If we documented the lives of enough people, could we find a way to measure luck? Can you suggest how? If we could measure luck, would it then be possible to determine the significance of luck in the lives of most persons? And would that affect philosophy? Please feel free to answer whichever questions you choose.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 24 2013: To measure luck, you have to consider the law of averages. 100 coin flips should average out to 50/50. I think it is rare that 50/50 is actually achieved. Some may be 66/34, 55/45, even 51/49. Luck, in these terms, is random, Realistically, a larger sample of 1000 will likely be closer to 500/500, but some will naturally be 540/460 or so. In the non-random or random situations of life, Life Chances/Life Choices/Pressure are all variables to "lucky" life. Especially because you can't choose your DNA or your parents. Any "legacy", or lack of it, falls in the luck category. When referring to luck it, usually implies overcoming incredible odds, whereas Skill, Talent, Experience, Preparation,etc. are ways to reduce the need for luck.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.