Please Don’t Make Assumptions

There’s an old saying about making assumptions. There is more truth to that saying than most people realize. I don’t care if the assumption is from an expert, a so-called expert, or the general public. Please don’t make assumptions. I hear a lot of assumptions when it comes to genealogy, DNA, cemeteries, and other things of a historical nature. In fact, too often so-called “experts” are some of the worst at making assumptions. They assume just because the odds are 1 in 1,000,000 or worse, they go with the most likely explanation. While it’s often the wisest way to go, it’s not the only way to go and sometimes, it’s the worst assumption to make. I also don’t care why you are making the assumption.

Let’s look at two (2) U. S. lotteries: Powerball (odds of winning the big jackpot: 1 in 292,201,338) and Mega Millions: (odds of winning the back jackpot: 1:302,575,350). Statistically, you have much better odds of being struck by lightning. When I did a search, the first to come up was a North Carolina TV station story that ran in 2016:

Your odds of being struck by lightning this year are 1 in 960,000. In your lifetime those odds drop to about 1 in 12,000. Your odds of being struck by lightning twice in your lifetime are 1 in 9 million, which is still a higher chance than winning the Powerball.

What about getting struck by lightning while drowning? Those odds are 1 in 183 million which 63 percent higher than hitting the Powerball.

This site (2015 article) puts the odds of being struck by lightning* at

In case you’re wondering, the odds of getting struck by lightning are about one in 280,000,000. The odds of getting struck by lightning seven times are 4.15 in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

*I copy/pasted the above quote shortly before publishing this post. Apparently, they didn’t copy paste from the link above (Odds = 1 : 280,000 of being struck by lightning).

Yet, people win Powerball and Mega Millions on a somewhat regular basis. That’s why trusting statistics is an unwise move.

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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