When I look back at my chequered career, I smile at the self-generated chaos that I called ‘work’. Now that I am retired, I have time to philosophise about what that work meant. Working statisticians are often so busy trawling the recipe books for quick solutions that they fail to muse about what lies beneath their magic formulae.
I have the privilege to be the primary carer of a brave family member who suffered a dense stroke 18 years ago. Since then, she has had six bad falls. The probability that she may fall on any given day seems to increase over time. The average probability is about one in a thousand. Does that mean my patient is certain to have another fall someday in the next 3 years?
For example, suppose that it has been observed that the chance of a traffic accident occurring is one in three hundred. Does this mean that, in a convoy of 300 vehicles, one of them is certain to have an accident? Is that a paradox?
By definition, a negative binomial probability distribution might be a good model of the number of trials by keyboarding monkeys until their first success of typing out all the works of Shakespeare by replicated random tapping of a finite set of 26 alphabetic characters.
My question is: does probability imply inevitability in the long run? If so, why would the inevitable be only probable? Given an eternity, would a cosmos be certain to spring spontaneously from an empty void? Its own laws might govern an infinitesimally small chaotic vacuum. Its basic law might require instability. The likelihood would then be that something would have to happen in accordance with the inherent laws of randomness, chance and mathematical probability.
The solution to that Cosmic Conjecture might require research to develop appropriate mathematical tools. It demands courage to dream and think the unusual. It might need that eternally enigmatic but elusive flash of genius. One would also need endless but stubborn patience. One would have to have extreme mental stamina and the hide of a rhinoceros. The essential ingredient would be a strong dose of good luck. Some kind of Cantorian probability of the infinitesimal linked with relativity theories might coax a good answer out of a properly formulated hypothesis. Great unanswerable questions are more important than great unquestionable answers.
The answer might reveal that the existence of the universe could have a type of uncertainty related to Heisenberg’s principle. Realities might exist in the nexus of two or more universes. We might need to include variable universes to make the model viable. We might conclude that absolute existence is infinitely unknowable but asymptotically realisable. The Quixotic search might be inconclusive but fruitful. The spin-off of new mathematical methods could be beautiful, useful and interesting.
Reduce the conjecture to a minor level. Nature abhors a vacuum. Therefore, a true vacuum would have to result from a sustainable alternative to nature. Was the proliferation of virtual realities inevitable in website blogs? Such jocose logic is sadly true, but indicates there may be a quantifiable element of truth in the grander cosmic model.
Does probability exist because there is a reality? Alternatively, is reality the result of a probability that it could exist? Or are both probability and reality mutually independent? Or does each cause the other? Are they completely or partially interdependent? Or can they be mutually dependent and independent at the same time? Is probability built into the fabric of reality? Will it be forever so? The future is uncertain. Probability transcends time. It could be called the calculus of the fourth dimension.
If probability does not imply inevitability, then what would be the probability that a probable event is inevitable? Natural outcomes and their knock-on effects inevitably surface from suitable intrinsic conditions. They just need a critical level of chance. Can we quantify the cosmic level of chance? Does it lie between zero and unity or is it imaginary? I think of a famous line from George Bernard Shaw: You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’