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Old January 10, 2009, 02:52 PM   #1
JohnH1963
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The most important rule of self defense - Statistics

The rule of statistics is the most important rule.

If you go 60 miles per hour in a 55, chances are you wont get a ticket. However, if you drive long distances on highways for a living then the chance of getting a ticket are higher. It just takes 1 or 2 tickets to have your commercial license yanked. Therefore, commercial drivers are wise to keep their vehicles right at the limit.

In the same way, its important to be anal about what is taught in training and how to approach each situation.

A patrol officer who pulls over speeders on a daily basis needs to follow his training exactly and take a cautious attitude with everyone. 99% of the time, nothing will happen and the extra precautions taken are not really needed. However, its that rare 1% which could prove fatal.

Therefore, its important to always error on the side of caution and to take no risks.
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Old January 11, 2009, 10:14 PM   #2
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Not to hijack your thread, but the subject reminds of the quote from Joseph Stalin.
"One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic."

Yes, the "it can never happen to me" attitude is very dangerous.
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Old January 11, 2009, 10:29 PM   #3
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You always have to take risks. Statistics help to understand just how much risk you are taking, and let you decide where you want to draw the line for risk.
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Old January 11, 2009, 11:34 PM   #4
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I don't believe in statistics at all and I work as a scientist LOL. For example, take a 55 gallon bucket full of dice and throw them on the table. Then line them up in a row and look at the numbers. What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen. The odds are nearly astronimcal that the results you get will happen, but every throw of the dice it does happen depsite the odds. No matter what the odds are, you'll get unexpected results in the end that are considered 'impossible' by any statistical analysis EVERY SINGLE TIME!
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Old January 11, 2009, 11:54 PM   #5
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Err on the side of caution.
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Old January 12, 2009, 01:15 AM   #6
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What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen.
No, it didn't happen again, it only happened once. You are correct that the odds of it happening again are essentially nil, but that's beside the point.

You emptied the bucket putting no prior constraint on the outcome. The odds of you emptying a bucket of dice and getting an outcome (any outcome) are exactly 100%. In other words, every time you empty the bucket, the odds are exactly 100% that you will get a long row of numbers. What is very UNLIKELY is that you will be able to duplicate that long row of numbers by emptying the bucket AGAIN.

There may be good arguments against statistics, but the one you gave is not one.
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Old January 12, 2009, 01:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Armstrong
You always have to take risks. Statistics help to understand just how much risk you are taking, and let you decide where you want to draw the line for risk.
+1

Quote:
Originally Posted by KUHIO
Err on the side of caution.
+1, also.

Statistics are tools that can play an important role in making a decision. It is also always good to be safe.
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Old January 12, 2009, 01:27 AM   #8
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There are lies, damn lies and statistics. :barf:

I think some of the statistics I see quoted on here at times are nothing more than educated guesses.

I may look at some statistics regarding risk and evaluate them (if I know the context of them) but ultimately I'll use common sense.
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Old January 12, 2009, 01:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cchardwick
I don't believe in statistics at all and I work as a scientist LOL. For example, take a 55 gallon bucket full of dice and throw them on the table. Then line them up in a row and look at the numbers. What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen. The odds are nearly astronimcal that the results you get will happen, but every throw of the dice it does happen depsite the odds. No matter what the odds are, you'll get unexpected results in the end that are considered 'impossible' by any statistical analysis EVERY SINGLE TIME!
I think what he's trying to say (please do correct me if I'm wrong), is that if you were to hypothetically assess the chance of landing the outcome you got before you got that outcome, the chance of getting that outcome would have been so small as to be considered impossible, yet it happened anyway. I understand that argument perfectly, and IMHO, it's a good one, if that is indeed cchardwick's point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennessee Gentleman
I think some of the statistics I see quoted on here at times are nothing more than educated guesses.
+1, not mentioning names, though.
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Last edited by BuckHammer; January 12, 2009 at 01:54 AM. Reason: I felt compelled to add the last part.
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Old January 12, 2009, 01:57 AM   #10
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...if you were to hypothetically assess the chance of landing the outcome you got before you got that outcome, the chance of getting that outcome would have been so small as to be considered impossible, yet it happened anyway.
The problem with the argument is this:

Predicting outcome X, dumping the bucket and actually getting outcome X is one thing. Odds are essentially nil.

NOT predicting any outcome at all, dumping the bucket and getting outcome Z and THEN saying--wow, what are the odds of that happening again is another thing entirely.

EVERY time you dump the bucket you will get SOME outcome. Assessing the odds as if you had predicted that particular outcome is interesting but it doesn't tell you anything other than your chances of doing it AGAIN are VERY small.
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Old January 12, 2009, 02:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnKSa
EVERY time you dump the bucket you will get SOME outcome. Assessing the odds as if you had predicted that particular outcome is interesting but it doesn't tell you anything other than your chances of doing it AGAIN are VERY small.
I understand that point, and it's a good one, too. But the chance of you getting the specific outcome you did get was negligible. I agree that it is irrelevant now, because it is reality. It just makes you think about what is negligible. It is a very interesting discussion for both sides and I believe both sides of these philosophies make great points.
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Old January 12, 2009, 02:21 AM   #12
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But the chance of you getting the specific outcome you did get was negligible.
The chance of getting the specific outcome again is negligible.

Since there were no restrictions placed on the outcome before dumping the bucket, the odds of getting the desired outcome (which is any outcome since no restrictions were stated) the first time you dump the bucket was 100%.

Trying to assess the probability of events retroactively when no predictions or restrictions were made before the event doesn't make any sense.

It may seem like there's not really any difference in the odds but there is. If you don't believe me try going to Vegas and asking to be allowed to place your roulette bet AFTER the wheel stops and then use cchardwick's explanation as to why the odds are still going to be against your winning.
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Old January 12, 2009, 04:37 AM   #13
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Statistics have their place in the world. Trouble is that people interpret what the statistics mean and how to use them in a more effective manner.
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Old January 12, 2009, 10:57 AM   #14
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Some of this discussion makes my head hurt. But I was never good in math. :barf:

I took statistics in graduate and undergraduate and am not sure how they relate to most of our topics in this forum of tactics. Maybe I am missing it but I see visions of someone doing mental odds calculations in their heads ala' Mr. Spock or Data as they go thru their day. Should I stop at this stop & rob to get a soft drink or not? Hmmm, it's 3:30 PM and the moon is full and the temperature is 10 deg and the stock market is down so no I won't do it. As opposed to just being aware and looking around the area before we go in etc. I know we all take risks every day, I am not so sure that we on a personal basis, base our actions on all these mental statistical calculations. We have experience and common sense and maybe we read about what others have done. One discussion I have heard on here a lot is that most people go through life and never need a firearm. Don't know the stats but I can believe that. I carry anyway, because I don't want to be the one who needs it and doesn't have. No real statistical calculations for me!
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:04 AM   #15
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We had a similar discussion about odds in another thread. It is always good to know the odds so that you can prepare for an event that is likely enough to occur that you feel the need to prepare. On the flip side, it's also good to know the odds so that the fear mongers of the world can't make you freak out about everything THEY decide is a big problem.

The world is full of problems. We tend to address them in order of frequency and severity. As the more common and severe problems are dealt with we tend to redirect out attention to those problems that went unnoticed previously. Eventually, we focus on problems that most people will go through their entire lives and never experience. Why? Sometimes it's because someone who did experience that problem gets on their soapbox to try and save the world from that "problem". Other times it's frankly, because we don't have any more important problems to deal with.

As an example (for northerners, mostly)... Seen any news stories lately about the "dangers" of snow sledding? I have, more than one. Why is it that (literally) every person I know did it as a kid, with no helmets even!, and we never had any problems? Well, because it's not really dangerous but there really aren't any other problems out there bothering our kids (that aren't already being addressed) so it's "on to the next worst event".

Quote:
We have experience and common sense and maybe we read about what others have done.
You're exactly right. Do you know what "experience" is though? It's your brain using your past and information from others, essentially calculating the odds of every situation, on the fly, without your permission. Constantly assessing the risks and letting you know what's "safe" and what isn't. So do "we" have to stop and assess the odds constantly? No, you're too slow. Your brain already did it.
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Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; January 12, 2009 at 11:09 AM.
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:16 AM   #16
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It is always good to know the odds so that you can prepare for an event that is likely enough to occur that you feel the need to prepare.
I think that in the personal realm that is intuitive and not mathmatical. When someone says "what are the odds" I hear math. What I see on a lot of these discussions are math problems derived from "studies" that various academics throw about. I agree we assess risk but saying that there is a 1 in 200 chance you will need a gun sometime in your life is not why I carry and seems I don't think my brain calculated that.
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:22 AM   #17
David Armstrong
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What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen.
That is not a particularly accurate description of the process or of the odds.
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:24 AM   #18
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I get what you are saying but I disagree. There is no way to lead a risk free life. It's about reducing risks and putting blocks in place to prevent or lessen the severity of those that can be prevented and having contingency plans in place for others. In your example of speeding the real message there should be not to avoid risk, but don't break the law. The biggest risk when driving is death and bodily injury. You cannot avoid this risk, it is inherent in the act of driving. All you can do is try to reduce the odds of an accident through things you can control e.g. keep car in good running condition, tires inflated, headlights on even during the day, don't talk on the cell phone, keep both hands on the wheel, use your signals, etc. and lessen the effects in the event something does happen e.g. airbags, seatbelts, keep speed within limits to lessen the severity, have a good insurance policy.

Some fun thoughts on statistics

I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest. The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable. ~Mrs. Robert A. Taft

The average human has one breast and one testicle. ~Des McHale

Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. ~William W. Watt

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts - for support rather than for illumination. ~Andrew Lang

Statistics are like women; mirrors of purest virtue and truth, or like whores to use as one pleases. ~Theodor Billroth
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:26 AM   #19
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I think that in the personal realm that is intuitive and not mathmatical.
I agree. I only tend to invoke math when some obscure issue arises that makes my intuition say "Seriously? I don't know if that's a real problem..." That's when I go looking for numbers.

Basically, some news lady comes on TV and starts blathering about dangerous snow sledding. My statistical center, "intuition", starts doing the math... let's see, I was never hurt in thousands of tries, no one I know was ever hurt, I recall only a few stories (mostly about idiots sledding into the road)... my intuition presses the "BS" button.. I don't buy it. Of course all this happens in about a nano-second, without any conscious thought. My first conscious thought is "That's BS, these people need more to worry about..."

Quote:
There is no way to lead a risk free life....All you can do is try to reduce the odds...
You're exactly right. I just think it helps to know which odds are WORTH reducing. Some can be ignored. For instance, some wives have unceremoniously removed their husbands appendages. Do I prepare for that happening? No.
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:33 AM   #20
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Do you know what "experience" is though? It's your brain using your past and information from others, essentially calculating the odds of every situation, on the fly, without your permission. Constantly assessing the risks and letting you know what's "safe" and what isn't. So do "we" have to stop and assess the odds constantly? No, you're too slow. Your brain already did it.
Exactly, and that is something some fail to realize or to admit. We are constantly determining the odds as we go through life. Frequently we figure them on a very broad level: It's OK to drive to work today because I probably won't get into an accident. Sometimes we figure them on the basis of bad information, such as what the local 6:00 news has as the lead story. We are constantly figuring cost versus benefit, even when we don't actively consider it. We do much of it automatically and without conscious thought. The more accurate our information the more accurate our cost/benefit analysis.

Last edited by David Armstrong; January 12, 2009 at 03:18 PM.
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:48 AM   #21
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Where I see the statistics thing falling apart is when someone says: "well studies show that the odds are if you are robbed you won't be harmed, so don't resist." or "don't engage in a gunfight ever because cops only hit 20% of the time" or "there is no need to carry because the UCR shows odds that you won't be attacked" and so on. I will assess the situation as I see it then and take action based on what I see and the training and experience I have at that time and not based on odds from a study some academic quotes, which could be wrong.
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Old January 12, 2009, 11:55 AM   #22
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I will assess the situation as I see it then and take action based on what I see and the training and experience I have at that time and not based on odds from a study some academic quotes, which could be wrong.
You're absolutely right. On the flip side, it's equally wrong to suggest an automatic "SHOOT" response to any given situation. Such responses are based on an equally deceptive and inaccurate application of statistics.
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Old January 12, 2009, 12:08 PM   #23
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A few minor observations about statistics that I have found helpful.

1. Statistics are about counting numbers (most often LARGE numbers) of events.

2. An event cannot be counted as a part of a statistic until the event is over.

3. There are no statistics that can tell us anything really useful about a single event that hasn’t even happened yet.

4. From a personal perspective, it doesn’t much matter if the odds are two to one or 2 million to one……..if you happen to be the one .

I like to be prepared for the possibility, however small, that I will be the one.

Best,

Will
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Old January 12, 2009, 12:56 PM   #24
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I like to be prepared for the possibility, however small, that I will be the one.
Sure, we'd all like that. However, it isn't possible, so we need to decide what possibilities we can prepare for and what possibilities we should prepare for. Is it better to prepare for a BG attacking you in a parking lot or to prepare for a tiger leaping through your living room window and trying to eat you? Both are possible.
Quote:
3. There are no statistics that can tell us anything really useful about a single event that hasn’t even happened yet.
Sure there are. For example, statistics can tell us that you are probably going to be better off in a vehicle accident if you are using your seat belt than if you are not using it.
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Old January 12, 2009, 01:38 PM   #25
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On the flip side, it's equally wrong to suggest an automatic "SHOOT" response to any given situation. Such responses are based on an equally deceptive and inaccurate application of statistics.
peetza, we have a very serious case of agreement here.
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