I recently took a midterm in my probability class, and it didn’t go so well. I studied hard, I really did! I redid all my problem sets, read all the relevant textbook chapters, and I even practiced flipping a coin and guessing the outcome. I was right about 50% of the time, so I figured that with a good curve, I’d be fine. Unfortunately, when I started taking the exam, my mind started to wander, and I was unable to answer any of the questions. Here were some of the questions and my thoughts about each one.
How many ways can you distribute 30 balls, labeled 1-30, to a group of 7 boys?
Why did I label the balls?
Why am I giving all the balls away? I wanna play too!
What if I don’t like one of the boys, can I just not give him any balls?
Who gave me power to control who does and does not get balls?
Am I some kind of gym class deity, ruling over my loyal subjects with an iron fist? Or am I a Robin Hood figure, stealing from the jocks and giving to the nerds? This is too much power to place in the hands of one man.
A cafeteria cooks 3 different types of meals each day for lunch. Today, the chefs make 300 plates of goulash, 250 plates of liverwurst, and 350 plates of chicken neck stew. If 200 people have already eaten, what is the probability that you will get a plate of liverwurst?
First of all, why am I eating in this cafeteria? It sounds awful. Literally all of the dishes sound diarrhea-inducing.
Why am I 200th in line? I really need to get to lunch quicker.
Wait, why did all those other people eat here? Maybe the food isn’t so bad.
Am I closed-minded?
Have I been missing out on life, judging books by their covers and closing myself off to new, exciting ideas?
I should probably stay at this cafeteria and try to eat one of these options, right?
Ugh, what the hell is goulash?
You find yourself on a roadtrip with 4 other friends. Two of your friends lie 1/2 of the time, and the other two lie 4/5 of the time. If you hear a statement from each of your friends, what is the probability that you didn’t hear any lies?
A roadtrip? That sounds like fun!
Wait, if these people have to lie to by my friend, are they really my friends?
Where are we going? If these people are liars, they could be taking me anywhere. Maybe they’re kidnapping me!
Why would anyone want to kidnap me? I’m not rich or powerful.
Could they want information from me?
Maybe they want the answers to the probability exam – too bad I won’t be of any help.