Probability Quizzes of Jeffrey S. Rosenthal

In 2005, I wrote the following probability quizzes, inspired by my book Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities.

QUIZ #1 (published in Saturday Night, June, 2005):

Rank the following events, from most probable to least probable:

A. Your next choice of seven numbers will win the Super 7 lottery jackpot.

B. The next time you drive across town to buy a lottery ticket, you will die in a traffic accident.

C. The next time you play poker, your first five cards will be a Royal Flush.

D. If you select a Canadian uniformly at random, you will choose the Prime Minister.


QUIZ #2 (published in Saturday Night, Summer, 2005):

Rank the following events, from most probable to least probable:

A. The next time you are in a room with one hundred people, no two of them will have the same birthday.

B. If you start with $1,000 and repeatedly make $5 roulette bets on Red, you will get up to $2,000 before losing all your money.

C. The next forty times you flip a coin, you will get heads every time.

D. Your next cup of coffee will contain a molecule of water which was once in Queen Elizabeth II's tea.


QUIZ #3 (published in Saturday Night, September, 2005):

Rank the following causes of death in Canada, from most frequent to least frequent:

A. Being murdered by a stranger.

B. Being murdered by your spouse.

C. Drowning.

D. Dying in a transportation accident while riding a motorcycle.


QUIZ #4 (related to a recent article that I wrote):

What politician's offhand remark related to probability in June, 1990 changed the fate of a nation?


QUIZ #5 (published in Saturday Night, September 2005):

Suppose you select a random nine-digit number (like "762374275"), and do a World Wide Web search in Google. Out of the hundreds of billions of Web pages around the world, about how many will contain your number?

(a) 0

(b) 10

(c) 1,000

(d) 100,000


QUIZ #6 (was to appear in Saturday Night before they folded):

Rank the seven Canadian cities Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, St. John's, Toronto, Vancouver, and Whitehorse, in four different ways:

1. By latitude, from furthest north to furthest south.

2. By average January temperature, from coldest to warmest.

3. By average July temperature, from coldest to warmest.

4. By average annual snowfall, from most to least.


QUIZ #7:

Rank the following causes of deaths in the United States during the month of September, 2001, from most to least:

(a) the 9/11 terrorist attacks;

(b) other homicides;

(c) suicides;

(d) transportation accidents.


QUIZ #8 (as discussed in my book Struck by Lightning):

Suppose you have three cards: one red on both sides, one black on both sides, and one which is red on one side and black on the other. You pick a card at random and place it on the table. If the visible side is red, what is the probability that the other side is also red?

(a) 1/4

(b) 1/3

(c) 1/2

(d) 2/3

(e) 3/4


QUIZ #9 (was to appear in Saturday Night before they folded):

Based on current figures, the probability that a randomly-chosen baby from ____________ will one day play _____________ is one chance in about how many?

1. ... Canada ... hockey in the NHL ...

2. ... the United States ... football in the NFL ...

3. ... England ... soccer in the English Premier League ...

4. ... the Dominican Republic ... baseball on a major league team ...

5. ... China ... basketball in the NBA ...


QUIZ #10 (related to biases in medical testing):

When I was a child and played basketball with my father, we had a tradition that we would ALWAYS score on our last shot of the day. How were we able to achieve this?


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