Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Ununnilium: I don't get the Hey Arnold! example, nor why it's an example of Unspoken Plan Guarantee.

Ungvichian: Well, Arnold announces that he thinks he can stop it if he hits the stick shift on the bulldozer. Fixing entry.

Kimiko Muffin: I think it's best if we get more examples in here than merely subversions ...

Silent Hunter: Indeed. There's a Doctor Who one. I think it involves the 4th Doctor and 2nd Romana, but I'm not sure which story it is.

Nornagest: Not sure where to put this on the page, but given certain definitions of "event", an event with a million-to-one chance of occurring will on average be seen by any observer every couple of weeks or so. However, most of these million-to-one events will be frustratingly mundane.

Lull The Conqueror: For an especially striking example, if you're playing five-card draw poker, every single time you're dealt a hand you're seeing about a 1 in 2.6 million occurrence. However, roughly 2.4 million of these potential five-card hands are high card or one pair, so they tend not to strike people as particularly remarkable.

Ununnilium: Since we're getting pretty high on the quote count, taking out the (IMHO) weakest:

"Great shot, kid, that was one in a million!"

  • Of course, in that case, it was merely a miswording. He obviously meant to say that he would succeed no matter what, but instead phrased it in way that shows questionable logic.

...yeah, that's the joke. >>

  • Truth in Television: Over a sufficient number of trials, a Million-to-One Chance will come up, on average, once every million repetitions. Freaky, huh?
    • This is actually a very important and often forgotten principle which is responsible for a great deal of mischief. One example is publication bias - say some effect isn't real, but 5% of experiments will indicate there is some effect. If 20 people do the experiment, and 19 see nothing, but 1 sees something, that's strong evidence that the effect isn't real. But if those 19 people don't publish a paper about it because nothing happened and the one guy does, then the effect seems real, even though it isn't. Many paranormal researchers forget that, for instance, if you do a test where you show someone 25 cards with 5 possible symbols on them, if you do enough repititions you'll get at least one person who gets an unusually large number (or zero) correct. They then label it as psychic activity, forgetting the fact that if you test a hundred people, its actually unlikely you won't get a single person who doesn't get a seemingly-unusual number of correct answers.
    • But in most cases here the attempt is attempted by one person and they were probably the first to attempt it too.
  • Better yet, randomly pick a number from zero to a million. Look at the number you chose. Guess what? The odds against you picking that number were a million to one. Do this ten times, and million-to-one chances will crop up ten times out of ten. You just can't predict which ones. If every possible alternative is improbable, then something improbable is certain to occur.

Okay, this is a good point, but I don't see what it has to do with the trope.