Possibility and probability are two different things

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 04, 2004

In Reply to: Possibility and probability are two different things posted by Abhishek Gaur on October 04, 2004

: HI,
: Can anyone out there tell me what does this phrase or saying mean...
: "Possibility and probability are two different things"
: OR
: "Probability and possibility are two different things"
: Thanks
: Abhishek

Elementary, my dear Watson! THe quoted sentence is correct. We just have to remember that probability has two slightly different meanings. If a thing is possible, it can happen, or may happen. If a thing is probable, it is very likely to happen, chances are good that it will happen. For "thing" substitute a clause of your choice. In general, possibility, on a scale of 0 to 1, in which 0 means impossible and 1 means completely possible, there is no middle position. Being possible is a unique condition, it's a case of either / or. On the other hand, probability is variable. On a scale of 0 to 1 every degree in between is possible. If you use the word "probable" unmodified, you are saying it (whatever "it" is) has "a good chance of happening." Or, in some cases, you may want to measure the exact degree of likelihood. That is not possible with "possible." One can speak of a low probability, but not a low possibility--unless you're willing to use poor English. SS