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  • Owen Gunden

Positive expectancy advocacy

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. - Bible, Acts 16:5

My career has been in high-frequency and quantitative trading. I've been using computers to trade markets for about 15 years.

One of the key concepts that successful quantitative traders understand (and poker players too!) is that of expected value. This is a technique for making decisions under uncertainty. The basic idea is that the value of an action, a position, or a bet is the sum of the possible outcomes weighted by their probabilities.

Let's take an example. Let's say I am going to roll a regular 6-sided die and give you $1 for a 1, $2 for a 2, etc. To calculate how much that game is worth to you, you would sum the weighted outcomes as follows:

$1 * 1/6 + $2 * 1/6 + $3 * 1/6 + $4 * 1/6 + $5 * 1/6 + $6 * 1/6

= $3.50

Now, imagine that you could find a way to enter into playing that game by paying just $3.49. You would be "earning" an "edge" of $0.01. You won't necessarily win by making that bet, but if you do it enough times over and over again, on average you will come out ahead by one cent per game played.

In trading, we use computers to look for opportunities like this all over the markets all the time, and make tens of thousands of small bets with tiny edges. If you look at individual trades that we make, you will see winning and losing seemingly at random. But if you add everything up, in the aggregate we win with a very high probability.. almost every day we come out ahead.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1-3

When we have a conversation with somebody about veganism, they may or may not be persuaded by us. It might look random, in fact, whether or not somebody is moved or influenced by our actions or examples.

In other words, we don't see the results. But that doesn't mean that our actions aren't helping.

Similar to trading based on expected value, we can take lots of small actions, over and over again, and as long as our actions are aligned with truth and taken with humility, they will be having a positive aggregate effect, even if this or that particular outcome appears to be negative.

This is a wonderful realization, because when we carry this knowledge with us, we can take action without needing to see the results. We know that as long as we're putting our truthful message out there, we are having a positive impact even though we don't see it.

If you're feeling inspired to take some positive expectancy actions and are looking for support, don't hesitate to get in touch!

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