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The result of a coin toss might not be random, new study suggests

By T.K. Randall
October 15, 2023 · Comment icon 2 comments
Man holding up a 2 Euro coin.
Is tossing a coin truly random ? Image Credit: Pixabay / jarmoluk
New research has called into question the notion that tossing a coin yields a 50/50 chance of heads or trails.
For years, a coin toss has been synonymous with producing a random result from a pool of two possible values, but now an extensive new study has put this idea into doubt by revealing that there is a slightly higher chance of a coin landing on the same side that it started on.

To determine this, researchers at the University of Amsterdam conducted an experiment in which coins of 46 different currencies were flipped by 48 students, over and over again, 350,000 times over the course of several months with the results being meticulously filmed and documented.

Scientist Persi Diaconis was the first to put forward a physics model suggesting that the wobbling motion of the coin made it more likely to land on the same side it started on.
Sure enough, after hundreds of thousands of flips, the results of the new study seemed to corroborate this slight bias which, in practice, amounts to around a 51% chance of landing on the same side.

While this might not sound like much, in some scenarios - where a coin toss is used in gambling for example, revealing the starting side of the coin could ultimately enable someone to obtain an advantage over an extended period of time.

"These considerations lead us to suggest that when coin flips are used for high-stakes decision-making, the starting position of the coin is best concealed," the researchers wrote.

Source: Boing Boing | Comments (2)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Nicolette 8 months ago
I always thought it was tails more often because of the weight of the face side.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Nosy.Matters 8 months ago
Aaand the moral of the story, don't bet. Well, unless it's for 'Gummy Bears' .

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