Numbers are an essential part of life, so we better learn to live with them. It’s often said that the language of nature is mathematics, so if you’re going to be a scientist, you’re going to need math. True enough. But non-scientists need numbers too. Keeping a bank account, getting a mortgage, and providing car insurance all require keeping track of numbers. Nor can you get by without probability and statistics. Probability and statistics tell us how to manage risk.
All of life involves risks, but some risks are a lot worse than others. For every 100 million miles driven on American roads by cars, one driver dies. But for every 3.3 million miles driven on American roads by motorcycles, one rider dies. Your chances of dying are thus 30 times more likely on a motorcycle than in a car. Maybe that’s a risk you didn’t know. Maybe you don’t care. But your spouse, who’s taking out life insurance on you, just may.