A Matter of Statistical Significance

May 8th may be an unremarkable day for many people.  The chances of being born on this day are one out of 365.  Those with a rudimentary understanding of statistics and a questionable sense of humor would tell you the chances of being born on that day are about the same as being born on Christmas.  And if you were to see Grandfather Harry, Father Lee, and Lee’s son Benjamin at a birthday party, you would notice three names on the cake.  This is because all three of them were born on the same day of the year: May 8th.

Statisticians have suggested that the odds of three randomly selected people sharing the same birthday are approximately 272,910 to one against.  And if you were to take into consideration that they are all related, the odds become even more complex.  The statistics of Lee being born on his father’s birthday were a surprise to everyone.  When Lee’s son was born on the same day, no one could believe it.  And the midwife they went to suggested it would be May 8th long before it happened.  To their amazement she was exactly on target.  The first born child is rarely born on the day projected.  In fact, they are notoriously either early or late.  And yet it happened exactly as it had been prognosticated as though it had been planned years before.

Lisa, Lee’s mother, was in labor for 36 hours before the 7lb 2oz healthy child was born.  Had things not transpired in exactly the right way, the trend would have been broken.  The trend also continued in another regard that at least doubles the statistics: Lee could have been either a boy or a girl, but just as his father and grandfather were born on that day, Lee was born as well.  

No complications were involved in any birth, any one of which could have resulted in a premature or late baby.  Harry and Benjamin have both joked that in thirty-something years they should keep an eye on their birthdays, as the family tradition that has lasted three generations gets an opportunity to happen once more.  If this were to happen, the streak would have a total statistical significance of 74,480,959,744 to 1.  The chances of this happening are even less likely than the chances of winning the lottery and getting struck by lightning in the same day.

And yet, the factor that makes their existence is even more statistically unlikely.  If one were to take a ruler from one end of the known universe, past galactic central point, and stretch it several light-years from one end of the universe to another, the chances of gravity being just right for life to exist on this planet are the same as one of those inches out of the millions of light-years.  And the chances of human life existing only make it even less likely.  So really, the three born on the same day are merely the continuation of a trend of unlikely existences coming from the human race.