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I just became a beta tester for a really interesting new venture: Book of Odds.  Book of Odds is a website that attempts to collect and organize as many odds statements as possible:

For over three years we have been building what we believe is the missing dictionary, one filled not with words, but with numbers – the odds of everyday life. It contains hundreds of thousands of Odds Statements, from the odds of being the only one to survive a plane crash, to the odds of having a heart attack, to the odds of having ever eaten cold pizza for breakfast. Book of Odds not only allows you to search for those odds that concern or interest you the most, but also to understand probability by comparing the odds of unfamiliar events to others you have personally experienced. Book of Odds was built for you, and we hope you’ll enjoy it.

So far, the site is fascinating.  I completely agree with the idea that to make odds more meaningful we need to compare them to events that are familiar to us.  As mentioned previously, I am a big believer in the relational presentation of data.  Numbers are great–and I think they are important–but sometimes they can be too abstract, and therefore their impact muted to the casual observer.  Context is key, and presenting data in some comparative fashion can often times provide the grounding and context necessary for their impact to be felt.  So how does Book of Odds accomplish this?

Once you find odds you find interesting you have two ways to compare them: 1) events with odds comparable to your selection are automatically generated to the right of your event, or 2) you can search the site by odd rather than event. Searching broadly based on the odds of your event provides a greater opportunity for comparison.

I’ll have more to say about how useful this is and how functional the site is the more I work my way through. I’ll likely hold any additional comments until they move out of beta. Suffice it to say it is an interesting concept. If you are interested in odds and probability and can still sign up to be a tester I would certainly recommend it.