Instances of usage of the word "likelihood"
In what contexts do "ordinary people" think of chance?
One way to study this question is by searching online writing.
The project references to chance in blogs
searched on several phrases like "one in a million chance" in
blogs written by individuals, and
produced instances of everyday life and casual thoughts.
The present project sought somewhat more thoughtful instances in the context of current affairs and society.
After some experimentation, the most useful word we found to search on was "likelihood".
Here are two lists. The ordering of items is mine, but there has been no subjective selection of items.
Other details of collection at end.
Usage of the word "likelihood" in The Economist
This is the complete list found by their web search
for the period March 25 - June 25, 2009.
There are 14 items.
- New research based on a survey of 1,000 homeowners suggests that one in four mortgage defaults are strategic -- by people who could meet their payments but who choose not to.
people who live in neighbourhoods where home repossessions are frequent are more likely to welsh on loans. Homeowners who know someone who has defaulted strategically are 82% more likely to say they would do so, too. The likelihood of strategic default rises more quickly once the rate of local home foreclosures reaches a critical level.
Cancer is at last beginning to reveal its secrets, thanks to a technology known as the biomarker, which is a genetic indicator different from an SNP. Biomarkers reveal such useful things as the effectiveness of potential new drugs in individuals or groups, as well as the likelihood of adverse reactions.
Perhaps oysters' most important service is removing nitrate pollution from the water. That reduces the likelihood of algal blooms -- a great enemy of many sorts of marine life.
David Rogers' ..... research has linked levels of photosynthesis, detected from satellites, to the size of a vein in the wings of west African tsetse flies. This vein-measurement indicates the health and size of fly populations -- and suggests the likelihood of epidemics of sleeping sickness, a tsetse-borne parasitic disease that kills tens of thousands of Africans a year. That means satellite data can be used to predict epidemics without having to collect any flies on the ground.
In the past, mentions of the word recession (as mapped in an "R-word" index) have been a useful indicator of the likelihood of the real thing. Could the same be true of a green-shoots index and the likelihood of economic recovery?
Rating agencies have long assessed banks' creditworthiness in part on the likelihood of government support should they get into trouble.
The repayments [by large banks of a combined $68 billion to the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP)] will increase available TARP funds to $170 billion, reducing the likelihood of having to ask Congress for more money.
... pundits now expect to see few, if any, further financial reforms passed in 2009. Delay could play into the financial industry's hands, to the extent that it reduces the likelihood of heat-of-the-moment laws like Sarbanes-Oxley, rushed through after the Enron scandal.
The [Indonesian] election was undoubtedly chaotic with more than 1,000 reported electoral violations, twice the number recorded in 2004. But despite loud, if largely baseless, cries of foul by some losers there is little likelihood the result will be nullified.
The likelihood of political unrest has increased in most countries [article headline].
Even if serious talks [between insurgency groups operating in south Thailand and the government] were to take place, there is very little likelihood that the royalist establishment would make any concessions that would threaten the preservation of a unitary Thai Buddhist state.
Along with the recent unrest in the south, the implications for political stability in Yemen are dire and the likelihood of a major confrontation is growing.
The Economist Intelligence Unit's baseline forecast is that the ......
[Turkish] government will do enough under a new IMF agreement to avoid another economic and financial crisis in Turkey. There is, however, a real risk of severe political and economic instability. Even under such a scenario we believe that the likelihood of direct military intervention in politics is low because of the growing demand for greater democracy.
The Vatican is a powerful actor in world affairs, one that can affect the likelihood of a "clash of civilisations".
Usage of the word "likelihood" in blog article titles
Collected late June 2009.
Some of these blogs are "semi-pro" -- an individual seeking to be viewed as an authority, and therefore putting in some more thought than a casual blogger. Others are more professional, or more casual, or run by some interest group.
Note the quotes are from titles, not text.
- Heartburn Medications Increase Likelihood of Heart Attack in Patients Taking Anticlotting Drugs
- [Do ] Cold medicines increase DCS likelihood?
- Imaging advances reduce likelihood of death from brain hemorrhage
- Likelihood Of Placental-Site Trophoblastic Tumors Linked To The Amount Of Time Since Related Pregnancy
- Psoriasis Sufferers Have Increased Likelihood of Serious Health Issues
- Likelihood of survival may be improving for extremely preterm infants
- [take action to] Reduce Likelihood of Lyme Disease, EEE, and West Nile Virus
- Likelihood of swine flu in [Bedfordshire] "will become greater"
- Flu Pandemic Likelihood and Paradox
- Met Office predict likelihood of climate change on your doorstep
- The likelihood that Ahmadinejad really won
- Brown considers PR deal with Liberal Democrats to end likelihood of Tories ever governing alone again
- Facebook Hires Lobbyist As Likelihood Of New Online Privacy Legislation Rises
- 7 Employer Actions that Can Increase Likelihood of a Lawsuit - Action 3
- Federal Circuit clarifies how to analyze likelihood of success at preliminary injunction stage
- What are the legal consequences of online gambling, and the likelihood of being caught and/or prosecuted?
- States ranked for likelihood of traffic tickets, fines
- Payroll Taxes: How to Reduce the Likelihood of a Tax Penalty by 31 Times
- Despite high likelihood that he'll take home the Norris Trophy, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara's rooting for Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom
- Juninho Admits The Likelihood Is That He Will Leave Lyon
- Indians [baseball team] Insider: As disabled list keeps growing, so is likelihood of a Shapiro deal
- Airbus and Boeing concur on likelihood of 2010 recovery
- Reduced likelihood of a US interest rate hike in 09 hurts the USD
- What Is The Likelihood Of The U.S. Losing Its AAA Credit Rating?
- Great customer service reduces your likelihood to go out of business by 10x
- Shale Oil Estimates Grow; Likelihood of Extraction, Not So Much
- SpotCrime maps your likelihood of being robbed, raped or murdered
- Some Thoughts on Insurance, and the Likelihood of a Lorry Spinning Off the Road and Smashing Into Your House
- Evangelical Christians measure the likelihood of end times with the Rapture Index
- Likelihood of "Best of" Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise DVDs?
- Does The Likelihood of Early Infant Death Make Late Term Abortions More Justifiable?
- Coroner: "Likelihood Is Slim" For Jackson Autopsy Results Today
- Stigma increases likelihood that drug users reoffend
There are 33 items.
- De facto advertisements;
- "Likelihood" used in the technical meaning from mathematical statistics;
- The legal phrase "likelihood of confusion" in trademark law.
"Likelihood" can just mean "probability";
alternatively, because "likely" carries the connotation of "probability greater than 50%", the word "likelihood" can carry the same connotation.
However the latter is surprisingly rare in our instances (1/14 and 3/33).
Which topics came up?
Readers familiar with The Economist will recognize these topics as the kind of topics that the magazine usually
So in that sense,
the first list doesn't help us with understanding contexts in which people think of chance.
The second list is more interesting in that the topics are
unrestricted, and so one can compare these topics with our own
(or anyone else's)
list of perceived instances of chance.
Comparing examples with philosophical discussion.
Recall my general thesis is that philosophical discussions illustrated by iconic examples
are barely relevant to typical real-world instances of chance.
(xxx cross-ref discussion elsewhere).
Here is one of the more reasonable philosophical discussions, from
One of the curious features of probability is that in everyday speech it is used in two rather different circumstances: first, when there is some essential randomness, and second, when our uncertainty is due to lack of knowledge.
Probabilities that we face in everyday life are often combinations of the two types of probability, depending on the circumstances and individual interpretation. Consider the following questions and try to decide whether the uncertainty in each situation is aleatoric (essential randomness) or epistemic (due to our insufficient knowledge of the situation) , or possibly a combination of the two.
- Which numbers should I choose for the lottery?
- Which lottery scratch-card should I buy?
- Was there a conspiracy to kill Princess Diana?
- What cards will I have in my bridge hand?
- Should I draw another card in blackjack?
- Has this patient got cancer?
- Might I have a stroke or heart attack in the next 10 years?
relate to phil discussion of Bayesian/frequentist.
xxx hard to distinguish "single events" from "statistical averages"