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Dice graphicWhat is random? If I draw a card, will it yield a random result? If I roll a die, will that lead to a random result?

The answer is: we don’t know. The deck of cards can be stacked, the die may be false. And yet, as humans, we tend to believe that we’re pretty good at both seeing randomness and generating it.

Looking at it psychologically there are three main parts of randomness: that events aren’t dependent, that events are consistently likely (meaning that their chance doesn’t change much over time) and that the outcomes match what we believe about the system.

For example, we believe that die rolls are random. But if we roll ten sixes in a row we tend to believe that we shouldn’t roll another one (the Gambler’s Fallacy), that it’s “time” for a different result. But if we are told that the system has been rigged we’ll tend to believe that those sixes are a result of that rigging, even if we don’t know what that rigging consists of or whether it exists at all. (more…)