Odd one out

October 29, 2017

Being the “odd one out” means that you differ from all other people in some way. Its pretty easy to feel like the the odd one out in your family. Lots of families might have the one child who is left-handed, or the father who converted to Christianity. Its also easy to feel like the odd one out in your community. You might be known as the math teacher that climbs mountains or the guy that rollerblades without a shirt while playing guitar. But, really, we are all the odd one out, and it doesn’t take long to find out how.

As of 2016, the population of the earth is 7.442 billion people. If you ask any one person a divisive question, then, by definition, half of the population would say one answer, while half would say another. Ask each half another question and you can divide them even further. To be the odd one out, you only need to ask enough questions to divide the full population of the earth down to one person. One person that is different than everyone else.

A divisive question makes 50% of people answer one way and 50% the other. The probability that number of people that answer each question the exact same way is 50% multiplied by 50%, for each question, times the total population. How many questions do we need so that the likelihood that any two people have the same answers is less than 1%? This is simply answered by determining the exponent, n, to a binomial distribution,

Solve for n to determine the number of questions

The first number, n, that satisfies this equation is 36. That means you only need 36 questions before the answers to those questions uniquely identify that person as the odd one out, and it guarantees (with 99% confidence) that no other person has answered the same as you. Here’s my 36 questions, and their answers, which makes me the odd one out. If you are able to answer all these questions too, then you will find out exactly how you are the odd one out.

36 Questions of Uniqueness

  1. Can you draw? Yes.
  2. Can you play a musical instrument? Yes.
  3. Can you whistle? Yes.
  4. Dogs or cats? Cats.
  5. Do you write poetry? Yes.
  6. Do you like to dance? Yes.
  7. What hand do you write with? The left.
  8. Can you swim? Yes.
  9. Can you cook? Yes.
  10. Do you like math? Yes.
  11. Do you like sports? No.
  12. Do you read every day? Yes.
  13. Do you watch TV? No.
  14. Are you religious? Yes.
  15. Are you married? No.
  16. Are you overweight? No.
  17. Do you sometimes sleep naked? Yes.
  18. Do you save your money? Yes.
  19. Do you have brown eyes? No.
  20. Do you use ever use cash? Yes.
  21. Are you under 30? Yes.
  22. Are you a man or a woman? A man.
  23. Did you go to college? Yes.
  24. Can you change a flat tire? Yes.
  25. Do you wear contacts/glasses? Yes.
  26. Do you own a pet? No.
  27. Have you ever flown in an airplane? Yes.
  28. Do you read the news? Yes.
  29. Do you speak more than one language? Yes.
  30. Can you drive a car with a manual transmission? Yes.
  31. Do you listen to classical music? Yes.
  32. Do you floss your teeth every day? Yes.
  33. Do you commute to work by car? No.
  34. Have you seen snow? Yes.
  35. Are you vegetarian? No.
  36. Can you sew? Yes.

If the math is right, and the assumptions are right, then you will never find another person that has answered the same way as I have. If you answer the questions, there is basically a zero chance that you will answer the same that I have and only a less-than-1% change than anyone on earth will answer the same I have. We are all the odd one out.

Short-list of rare questions

If you consider questions that only 0.1-1% of the population can say yes to, then you need much fewer questions than you would normally need. In fact, for this you only need to answer yes to six of these rare questions and then you will be uniquely defined on Earth.

Rare Questions

  • Are you transgender?
  • Do you have a PhD?
  • Have you run a marathon?
  • Can you speak more than four languages?
  • Are you religous but not adherent to christianity, islam, hinduism, or buddhism?
  • Have you served in the army?
  • Do you have green eyes?
  • Do you have a healthy life style (no smoking, exercising 3 hours a week, body fat under 20%)?
  • Are you famous?

You may notice that some questions are omitted which are also considered “rare.” The rare questions I selected here pertain to the positive aspects of one’s life, instead of the negative aspects. These positive aspects are basically aspects of your life that you would be more likely to share with someone else rather than just share with your doctor. Also, it is better to define yourself by your positive aspects than by your negative aspects.

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Written on 29 October 2017. Categories: thoughts.

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