When Math Doesn’t Make Sense

(Archive Question of the Week) One of my favorite questions, from 2001, asked about how to convince a skeptical friend, when a clear mathematical result goes against their intuition. Why should they believe the math? It led me into thoughts about the relationship of intuition to math, whether (and when) math can be trusted, and …

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Should Rare Events Surprise Us?

(Archive Question of the Week) We often receive questions saying something like, “My wife has the same┬ábirthday as my son-in-law, whose dog has the same name as my wife’s┬ábrother, … ,” and asking us to calculate how likely it is that this would happen. Sometimes it is simply impossible to answer (without, say, looking up …

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