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Can one be 100% confident in completing an act? if there is .00000001% risk?

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Started: 11/25/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 438 times Debate No: 83056
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So basically, my friends and I are having a serious but small debate. It is concerning that if there is risk involved in a specific act, then one cannot be 100% confident in completing the act. I stated that this was false, that even if there is 99% risk involved, one can still be 100% confident that he or she can complete the said act. My example was a bridge that was over a deep cliff with alligators at the bottom. I said that even though there is the possibility that one could fall off the bridge into the pit of alligators, one could be 100% confident in crossing that bridge successfully. I said this because being 100% confident is based on one's ability to believe in one's self. As a result, this is why I believe that one can be 100% confident even if there is .000000000000001% risk

I completely disagree with madcusbad17. Lets take a different bridge for example. This bridge is very short, and is made of brand new wood. The drop from the bridge to the ground is 1 ft, and the only fault in the bridge is that the gap between the middle piece of wood and the one to the right of it is .5ft. However, the structure is still strong. So according to madcusbad17, there is a potential risk, and in this case, its falling in a gap that is only half a foot long. So there is the RISK of putting your foot in the gap and falling down .5ft, but then are you telling me that one could not be 100% confident in being able to cross that bridge just because of a gap that is .5ft wide? Even if the risk in that case is 1% because of the gap, one can assume, with 100% confidence that, even though there is a .5ft gap, there is no way this can stop him or her from crossing the bridge. Even if there are many other, more dangerous, variables in the way.


Hi there! Your friends are technically correct, the best kind of correct. No matter how "small" the risk is, it still exists, and therefore you are unable to claim 100% confidence. I suspect your argument is born either out of semantics or a mis-understanding of math in general (not a bad thing or meant to be an insult). I will quickly refute the two issues:

Semantics: You are using the word confidence in a manner that does not apply to statistics. In statistics the term confidence means "if you repeated this situation infinite numbers of times, how accurate will this statistic be in predicting the outcome." You are trying to claim "well, regardless of what I already know to be true, I possess never ending confidence in myself, therefore the statistics do not apply". Essentially, you admit that the only way you can have the 100% confidence is if you lie to yourself. You even state it in your opening paragraph, "....even though there IS A POSSIBILITY that one could fall off the bridge.....". Right there, you essentially say that you can not have 100% confidence in crossing the bridge an infinite number of times. Which brings me to....

Math: ANY statistic when compared to infinity approaches one (or 100%). So no matter how small the odds are, when compared to infinity, they become certainties. Think about your question this way, instead of saying "no matter how small the odds are of me falling off the bridge when I cross it once...." ask it like this: "If I were to cross this bridge an INFINITE number of times, would I fall off at least once for any potential reason?" The obvious answer is yes, therefore, you may not intelligently claim to possess 100% confidence.
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