🎲 Perceiving randomness

There’s random and there’s perceived randomness.

About Jeopardy, Ken Jennings said:

“The Daily Doubles are not placed randomly. A human physically looks at the gameboard, reads through some clues, and sees what type of clue might be Daily Double friendly. They try to scatter them but pseudo-randomness is not actually randomness.”

Introducing the iPod Shuffle Steve Jobs said":

“You know we've gotten a lot of people that say our shuffle's not random. Well it really is random but sometimes random means you've got two songs from the same artist next to each other. And so what we've added is smart shuffle to actually make it less random.”

About financial fraud, Hal Varian suggested using Benford’s Law to find phony figures. Much like microwave keypads, certain numbers come up more than others. In sets that follow Benford’s Law, the number 1 is the leading digit (e.g. 1,345 students enrolled in the school) about thirty-percent of the time.

So so so much of life is perception, including what we believe is random.