Russian Roulette of Life

Unlimited Bullets With Unlimited Possibilities

Russian roulette is a deadly game of chance where a player places a single round of a bullet in the revolver and spins the cylinder, and aims the gun at another player or himself. In the end, it all comes down to luck where the bullet is situated at the time of the shot and how many bullets can a full cylinder hold? In a typical game, a gun has one bullet out of six slots. It is a game of probability, the probability where your well being depends on it.

If a shot is fired after randomly spinning the cylinder, the probability of you getting shot in the head is 1/6. After each shot, the probability changes something like 2/6,3/6…6/6. There are only five consecutive winnings before the ultimate loss of life or gruesome casualty.

Let’s suppose you win the game. You’re now the role model for your family, friends and neighbours. You are now over in your head and think you can win the game. You play again, and you won! OMG, you’ve cracked the code of winning at Russian roulette and possibly at life too. The winnings from the game are enough to provide you with a year of comfortable living, so you only play the game once a year. There is a slim possibility that you’ll make it to your fiftieth birthday. Now expand your field of imagination; there are thousands and thousands of players in the game, all are twenty-five years old. By the law of probability, some players are likely to live to make it up to the age of fifty. It doesn’t make them skilled in this game. They’re just luckier than all of the dead players.

In reality, life delivers fatal bullets occasionally, but in the Russian roulette of life, there are unlimited bullets with unlimited chambers available to each bullet. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb explained in his book “Fooled By Randomness”, after a few dozen tries, one forgets about the existence of the bullet. Unlike a well-defined game of Russian roulette where the risk of losing is visible to everyone by calculating the number of bullets in the chamber against the number of chambers available, one does not observe the barrel of reality. Very rarely is the generator is available to the naked eye. One can thus unwittingly play Russian roulette and call it by some alternative “Low Risk” name.

In reality, the game seems terribly easy, and we play along carelessly. If you engage in a Russian roulette type of strategy where there is a possibility that you win most of the time with losing only every once in a while. In such a scenario, you’re likely to come out as the winner in every sample size until that bullet finally gets to you. When the barrel of reality is loaded with an unforeseen catastrophe that is capable of wiping out emotionally, physically and financially, you might find yourself out of time to dodge that bullet.

If you’d like to read the whole book check it out Fooled By Randomness

Categories: All Stories, Financial Philosphies

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