Because my grandma lived in Arkansas! Yeah, right /s

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was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

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I'm a Californian. Arkansas, a place so foreign to most of us Californians, had never entered my mind until a free e-book about a young woman in Southern Arkansas landed in my iBooks library a few years back. I read lots of books so I decided what the heck, it's free, I'll read this one too. Although I didn't love the book, somehow I felt compelled to buy the other books in the series and read on. After several books, I became enraptured like no other book series in my life. I couldn't figure out why. I kept joking to my family that I was obsessed with the series because our grandma had lived in Arkansas even though we all knew she was a New Yorker, and they doubted she'd even visited there, let alone lived there. Fast forward a year, I delved into my family's genealogy on, and upon researching my grandmother (who had passed away in 1980), I found that in 1945 she had filed an application for a social security number (SSN) under an alias maiden name. The image of the actual application wasn't online, but the SSN and family members (whose names were correct) were in indexed. I googled the number, and was shocked to find out the first three digits indicated the SSN application was filed in Arkansas. She had also filed for another SSN in New York, so I thought the Arkansas filing had to be a mistake. A few months went by and I couldn't resist applying for a copy of the social security application through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Several months later, a copy of her application arrived in the mail. And her name, signature, where she stayed in Arkansas, and where she worked in Arkansas, were all right there in the application. My grandma had indeed lived in Arkansas. Why I would delve into a book series about Arkansas and divine a justification for my obsession by conjuring a fake story that my grandmother lived in Arkansas, when in fact, unbeknownst to anyone in the family, she did, seems like a weird coincidence to me.
Total votes: 262
Date submitted:Tue, 21 Apr 2020 23:18:38 +0000Coincidence ID:10434