Flip a standard coin and you’ve got a 50 percent chance of heads and a 50 percent chance of tails, right?
That’s the whole reason people flip coins for stuff, that it’s even steven.
Well, there’s new research out that says… maybe not quite.
A team led by a researcher at the University of Amsterdam decided about a year ago to test out whether a coin flip is really, as they say, a coin flip.
And they did that in the most straightforward way imaginable: they got a bunch of people to flip a bunch of coins.
Of course they measured whether each coin flip landed on heads or tails, but they also measured whether the coin was heads up or tails up before the flip.
Another scientist put out a theory in 2007 that the way we flip coins wobbles them in a way that will tilt the outcome just a tiny bit toward whichever side was facing up.
And after 350,757 flips, this research project found that the theory was true, that the upside of the coin came up 50.8 percent of the time, and the downside 49.2 percent.
Just short of half the time.
This paper still has to go through peer review, but if it’s accurate, here’s why this is kind of a big deal.
There was a separate study in 2020 that said people who decide what to do by flipping a coin are more resolved over that decision than people who just decide on their own – they’re more likely to follow through on their decision and feel good about it.
People place a lot of confidence in coin flips, so it’s kind of important to know that this supposedly 50/50 way of making a choice isn’t strictly 50/50.
But that doesn’t mean you have to do away with coins when you have two choices in front of you.
The researchers suggest you can just hide which side of the coin is facing up, so that nobody can try to game the game.
Happy National Coming Out Day.
Back in 2013, a 15 year old named Laurel came out to her parents by baking a cake for them and writing “I’m gay” on the top.
She explained in a pun-filled letter that she thought telling them this way “would be a piece of cake,” and added “I hope you, much like this cake, are not in tiers.”
As Laurel said, it gets batter!