While the bell curve is used to organize data for things that have already happened (that chemistry test that most of the class got a “D” on), the Poisson curve, originally developed to measure the likelihood of getting kicked to death by a horse during battle, predicts things that we either fear or hope happens, like, for example, finding love. Writer Michael Kaplan compares the likelihood of certain horse death to finding true love in one’s life in an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Statistically? The chances are very, very rare.
“[The Poisson]curve, applied to finding true love, charts two things: the chance this rare event will happen once, twice, thrice, in a lifetime; but also how likely it is to happen at all in progressively more unlikely circumstances. When you move away from the back of the horse, the chance of being kicked to death falls precipitously. Similarly, edging away from the kind of people who are the current focus of your affections (in the hope that, say, a Florentine millionaire-poet-ski champion will come knocking at your door) makes the chance of success drop away much more quickly than it would for normally distributed phenomena,” he writes.
This made me feel comforted for some reason, that while this rare event known as love is so far out of our control, there are things we can do to increase our odds of it happening to us. So I guess I will continue to try to stay away from ornery horses and seek out horses that trot at my speed, raise my standards about the kind of horses I choose to ride, make myself the best horse I can be, and cross my fingers that I might get lucky. I will seek to find horses that are friends with my friends, and like to do the same things I do. I will shun those wild studs that whinny at the site of a bridle or saddle. I’ll let them ride on into the countryside.
And I will keep a keen eye out for a horse I can place my bets on. Not that I’m encouraging gambling. Oh, and maybe it wouldn’t hurt to start hanging out in barnyards instead of bars on Friday and Saturday nights with a sign that says, “Kick me gently?” [Post-Gazette]