#### The step-grandson – the probability calculus

So why is probability the stepchild of mathematics? I personally became aware of this only gradually. The simplest and possibly best, immediately obvious reason is this: Those who love mathematics, who are attracted to it, actually have a very special inclination. That is the inclination towards exactness. Mathematics is exact. There is a statement, one tries to prove it, occasionally to disprove it. The statement is “true” or the statement is “false”, 1 or 0. What then is the value of a statement “it is probable”, i.e. “it seems true”? I’ll leave that alone, seems true, ugh, that’s not mathematics. What’s more, appearances are often deceptive enough…

Of course, this overlapping of terms is no coincidence and has the aforementioned consequences. Appearances are simply not true. You can just make a few statements and that’s it. From now on, we do real mathematics (this is the undertone of the mathematicians; unfortunately, I must continue to claim that even they are not aware of this; all those who contradict for good reason, please stand up).

If we look at the term even more closely, the word “probably” was certainly introduced, simply used, long before these cumbersome formulae and calculation methods were invented. And one designates something with it. That which is designated is actually an event, which is (significantly) above 50%. “It will probably rain today, take an umbrella.” Otherwise one would say: “Maybe…, but take it with you anyway”. Or, you could put it this way: probable stands for large probabilities, for smaller ones you tend to say it’s unlikely. So even that term doesn’t even stand up to real scrutiny.

So when I hear such conversations (or stupidly sometimes participate in them, get drawn into them), I may ask back, “Yes, how likely is it?” But one is more likely to incur wrath.

By the way, another reason I see is that everyone, including mathematicians, has a need for certainty. But it may even be that one becomes a mathematician because of this need for security, which is even greater in relation to the rest of the population. You don’t want to do any other science, physics, chemistry, where you find out something, can this mean that, can that also mean that, interpretations, in case of doubt a measuring error and so on. The mathematician in particular becomes one because he wants to exclude imponderables, very specifically and consciously, so perhaps it is even a question of character. Mathematics and imponderability, that doesn’t fit.