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The history of probability
It is explained that probability and chance are relatively modern concepts. In ancient times all events were seen as being the result of the will of deities. Early mathematical exploration of probability was looked on by the church as akin to magic. A sketch set in 15th Century Italy shows Galileo, under threat of execution by a Spanish Inquisition type group, explaining basic rules of chance related to dice throwing. Bernoulli’s work on the law of large numbers is touched upon and explained in relation to coin tossing.
This sketch contains comedy cartoon violence. Discuss with students the tricky relationship of probability with ideas of predetermined events and fate. Are the two mutually exclusive? Show how probability is linked to being able to predict outcomes and their likelihood. For different levels of students this can be linked to simple actions such as coin or dice tossing or more complex processes involving conditional probability. Discuss the law of large numbers in relation to statistics and experimentation and explore how sample size is related to accuracy. Relate probability to aspects of financial education, exploring the concept of risk, how risk can be calculated and its impact on the size and security of returns. Look into the relationship between the law of large numbers and gambling to show how businesses such as casinos make a profit even when sometimes paying out large amounts. Discuss whether gambling is a viable and reliable way to make money.
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