Odds Are: On the difference between odds, probability, and risk ratio.

Odds, Probability, Chance, Risks: Interchangeable?
Not so much.

What does it mean to say “smokers are X times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers?” What about
when the weather channel says, “there is a 10% chance of rain?” The odds of 1 to 10 of winning?

These words are often used in casual conversations as somewhat interchangeable, and can be rather confusing. I remember being very excited to learn about them for the first time, so hopefully you will find this as interesting (or at least as clarifying!) as I did!

A little test!


In which of the following scenario are you most likely to find dessert happiness? Which ones are saying the same thing?

A. The odds against you eating a cupcake are 1 to 5.

B. Your odds of/on eating a cupcake are 1 to 5.

C. The probability of you eating a cupcake is 20%.

D. You have a 20% chance of eating a cupcake.

Answers, in short: A is the most likely-for-cupcake scenario, and C and D are saying the same thing.

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Reinforcement vs Punishment: From Animal Training to Theology (Full Post)

Ever felt “positively punished” when your dog-trainer or psychologist inundate you with these lingo? Reinforcement and punishment are important components of social interactions. They are most often discussed in context of those wielding authority and their subjects (e.g., in childrearing and animal training); occasionally to interactions between equals. However, these concepts speak even to unexpected territories such as the intellectual and spiritual pursuit of theology.

I apologise for the lack of citations. I have been a pet trainer for a dozen years, and I am afraid I won’t be able to accurate cite where I first learnt what at this point!


First, let’s tackle them in bite-size pieces.

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