Home > Musings on Life in General > Stick to your guns

Stick to your guns

Recently a friend posted the following on Facebook:

“Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say #1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say #3, which has a goat. He says to you, “Do you want to pick door #2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?”

This is known as the Monty Hall problem, and the correct answer is to switch, though it’s all based on probabilities and sounds like bollocks to me (though I admit I’m mathematically challenged).

That’s a question most of us have had to ask ourselves, I’m sure. Not that exact question, of course. Most of us have never been on a game show. I’m sure most of us have no wish to be on a game show (or is that just me?). How many times have you said (or heard someone say) “Oh no, I was going to say that!”? Why didn’t you then?

The question posed here, in more general terms without goats and cars and a single chance to switch, is this:

“I’m faced with a choice. I’ve had a little think. I’ve made my choice based on any information I might have at the current time. Do I now change my mind?”

Many years ago, I was paying a particularly intense game of draughts (I believe that “across the pond” the game is called “checkers”). I don’t usually play chess or draughts or games of that ilk – I’m intellectually lazy and don’t like to think too hard about things when I’m supposed to be “having fun”. Anyway, this game had been going for about an hour and it finally came down to a choice.  I couldn’t win, but I could force a stalemate. I had only one piece I could move, and I could only move it one of two directions. I stared at it for five minutes, and was feeling the pressure. I was convinced I knew the correct move and I went the other way. I lost.

This isn’t the same as the original question, of course. This wasn’t random chance – the answer was there on the board but I couldn’t see it. I made a choice and then for whatever reason I changed my mind at the last moment. That’s bugged me for the past ten years.

So, in answer to the original question, I would not change my choice to door #2. If my choice is wrong, I’ll always know that it was my choice. I can live with that. If I change my mind and my original choice was the correct one, I’ll beat myself up about it because I’ll always know that my first instinct was correct.

So my advice (for what it’s worth), is this: when faced with a choice, have a good think about all the available information, make a choice and stick to your guns!

  1. December 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    The Monty Hall problem never made any sense to me. I know, statistically, how it works, but it still twists my tiny mind around. I am intellectually lazy too I guess.


    • December 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Me too, I see the maths, but intuitively if there are 2 choices left it’s 50:50 isn’t it? Huh?
      Oh, my brain, she burns…


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