This tool helps you randomly pick items from a list.
It is difficult to make choices that are truly random without using some kind of tool. The choices we make are often affected by a number of different factors. Even when there is no obvious difference between the options it is still easy to be influenced by subjective features such as appearance, order in which the items are presented, and other unrelated things that we associate the items with.
When not having access to a tool such as this one, there are many other approaches that can be used to make random choices, some better than others.
- Drawing of lots
- Write down each item on a piece of paper. Fold the papers and put them in a bowl. Mix the papers thoroughly, and then pick one of them and read what it says. To ensure that the choice is as random as possible the papers should all have the same size and shape. It might also be a good idea to prevent the person who makes the pick from seeing the bowl. This method can without problem be used to choose randomly from a big number of items, but it can be relatively time-consuming because all items need to be written down.
- Children sometimes use rhymes (e.g. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe) to make random choices. The person who says the rhyme also points a finger at one of the items. For each word in the rhyme the finger moves to the next item in a predetermined order. The item that is being pointed at when the rhyme ends is chosen. A big advantage with rhymes is that they don't require any preparations. The disadvantage is that they are predictable. Normally it is up to the person who says the rhyme to decide which item should be pointed at first. This makes it possible for an experienced person to predict and decide the outcome.
- Coin flipping
- First, decide what each side of the coin means. Then, throw the coin into the air and let it land on the ground, or on your palm. The side that faces up decides the outcome. Coin flipping is a relatively simple and reliable method that only requires a coin, but it can only be used to choose between two items.
- Drawing straws
- One person holds forward a number of "straws" in such a way that they all look like they have the same length. Each person is then allowed to draw a straw and the one that gets the shortest straw is chosen. This method is mainly used to choose between persons, but it is possible to use it for picking random items too. It's done in exactly the same way, except that the items cannot draw straws, so someone has to do it for them.
- Throwing dice
- There are many ways in which dice can be used to make random choices. One way is to do as with the coin flipping, i.e. decide what each number on the die means before throwing it. If the choice is between fewer than six items the die might have to be thrown multiple times before getting a number that has been assigned to any of the items. Another method, that is often used in games to decide which person that should start, is to let each person throw the die. The person that gets the highest number is allowed to start. If the highest number is shared between multiple players the process is repeated for those players that shared the highest number until there is only one person left.