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Jan 4th, 2014
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  1. One way to understand this, if it still seems puzzling, is to imagine that we gather into a very large room 75 million families that have two children, at least one of whom is a girl. As the two-daughter problem taught us, there will be about 25 million two-girl families in that room and 50 million one-girl families (25 million in which the girl is the older child and an equal number in which she is the younger). Next comes the pruning: we ask that only the families that include a girl named Florida remain. Since Florida is a 1 in 1 million name, about 50 of the 50 million one-girl families will remain. And of the 25 million two-girl families, 50 of them will also get to stay, 25 because their firstborn is named Florida and another 25 because their younger girl has that name. It’s as if the girls are lottery tickets and the girls named Florida are the winning tickets. Although there are twice as many one-girl families as two-girl families, the two-girl families each have two tickets, so the one-girl families and the two-girl families will be about equally represented among the winners.
  3. I have described the girl-named-Florida problem in potentially annoying detail, the kind of detail that sometimes
  4. lands me on the do-not-invite list for my neighbors’ parties. I did this not because I expect you to run into this situation. I did it because the context is simple, and the same kind of reasoning will bring clarity to many situations that really are encountered in life.
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