When making decisions, “Flip a coin” has been seen for years as an equal and fair way to let chance lead us when making judgments. We often believe that a coin flip is a completely random event with a 50/50 chance of turning up heads or tails. It is commonly used to call sports events, settle personal bets and disagreements, and for many other purposes where a 50% decision is required. But is this assumption based on fact or just a belief?
You possibly studied probability in high school. So you understand that you have a 50/50 chance of winning, right? Why can’t you consider your luck and go for it?
It is because Diaconis, a Stanford University professor of statistics and mathematics & a former professional magician, discovered the reality. He determined that coin-based games are not as fair as you believe. And the reason has much more to do with physics than probability.
Let’s find the truth behind this myth by exploring the probability, randomness, and biases when flipping a coin.
Probability vs Physics:
“Coin toss is not completely about probability,” he claims. It also involves physics, the coin, and how the “tosser” actually throws it. If a coin is heads-up when flipped, it usually remains in that position when it lands. Diaconis has even developed the ability to flip a coin and get the heads outcome ten out of ten times.
If the coin is spun, the outcome is similar. Everybody is aware that a regular coin is not perfectly symmetrical. Since most coins are constructed this way, the “heads” side may weigh heavier and so fall more frequently on that side than the other. Additionally, some magicians can use coins that have been modified to favor one side more than the other. Furthermore, some magicians can have coins, with one side of the coin being heavier than the other. So, the key point is that it’s definitely not 50/50.
Technique of Flipping
The technique used by the person flipping the coin is another factor that can impact the outcome. The way the coin is flipped, whether with a delicate flick of the thumb or an aggressive toss, can affect its trajectory and the number of rotations it makes before landing. As a result, a skilled flipper may have a slight advantage in controlling heads and tails.
Laws of Probability
Let us now enter the domain of probability. Although it could seem natural that a coin flip should result in a 50/50 chance, the truth is a little more complicated. Air resistance, initial force, and landing surface can all lead to minor variations from the expected even split.
Google Flip Coin:
Google flip a coin feature is designed to replicate the unpredictability of a coin flip, allowing you to flip a coin with Google Search. While it is not identical to a physical coin toss because computer algorithms generate it, it is designed to provide a fair and unbiased result.
In Google Search, write ‘flip a coin’ or simply ‘flip coin’ for a coin flip, and click Flip Again to flip a coin once more.
The assumption that a coin toss has a perfect 50/50 chance is not entirely right. Professor Diaconis discovered that physics is important and that the way the coin is tossed, its shape, and even the surface it falls on can all have an effect on the outcome.