How Lucky, Living in Montgomery County?
If you can somehow afford to live in what is admittedly a pretty expensive county, Montgomery County is a pretty darn good place to be. If you agree it is lucky to be able to live here, just how lucky is it? (A great question for St. Patrick’s Day, don’t you think?) In fact, let’s go further and ask, how lucky is it to be a modern day American living in Montgomery County in comparison to anyone that has ever lived in all of human history? In other words, what are the odds?
Consider that there are roughly one million people living in Montgomery County today out of roughly 313 million living in the United States. That means it’s only a 1 in 313 chance that you’d be living here, given you live in the US.
But as you might recall from the news last year, we’ve passed the seven billion mark as to the world’s population. So one in every 22 living people today is an American. That means that you have a 1 in 7000 chance of being alive today in Montgomery County. Not nearly as low odds as you might think.
It gets really interesting when you start considering how many people have every lived. Since you have to decide when humans could be considered really human (setting aside the religious viewpoint and sticking with a purely secular and evolution-oriented assumption, which is good enough for our purposes here,) and you also have to guess at world populations over time back into times without statistically accurate censuses, the answer isn’t going to be all that precise. Two pretty good articles on the subject, though, suggest it’s somewhere between 57 billion and 108 billion people total across the ages.
Since it makes for nice round numbers, I’m going to go with a number somewhere in the middle that I also recall from reading a pretty good science fiction series by Philip Jose Farmer, the Riverworld series, which starts with To Your Scattered Bodies Go. Farmer’s series postulates a world with a near-endless winding river along which all of humanity is resurrected simultaneously. He uses a number of roughly 70 billion, which also handily means one in ten humans are still alive today. That’s a pretty awe-inspiring statistic, really.
That means that it was only a 1 in 70,000 chance that you would be alive today in Montgomery County amongst all the possible times and locations throughout all human history. By comparison, the New York Lotto Match 6 Jackpot is 1 in 45 million, a random selection of five cards from a poker deck being a royal flush is 1 in 650,000, and that the next baby born in the US after you read this line will become the President someday is about 1 in 25 million.
Other things that are about 1 in 70,000 are getting a non-royal straight flush in the previously mentioned poker draw, that a child will be a true hermaphrodite (XX/XY), that a woman who has a set of identical twins will have another, or being killed this year by a meteorite. When put that way, it sure seems like long odds, so I’m content, as a Montgomery County resident, to consider myself lucky.