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17 is the Most Random Number

I ran across this link on cognitive psychology regarding a study that finds that 17 is the most random number. Or at least that is what people most often choose when they are picking a random number between 1 and 20. It’s an interesting study (I’ve heard of this before but never in quite this way).

The reason this is interesting is not just related to a random number, but in picking passwords, secret questions or any other “what you know” type security mechanisms in applications. It’s also true that people tend to pick prime numbers more often than computers when asked to create a random number. Apparently people tend to think of randomness as being associated with being indivisible by 2.

In direct opposition it appears that the number 20 is the least random number, in that the fewest people picked it (sounds backwards because it is). It’s an interesting study anyway.

3 Responses to “17 is the Most Random Number”

  1. hackathology Says:

    Interesting article Rsnake.

  2. Cows Says:

    This is also true with numbers 1-10, people more commonly pick the number 7, that any other number.

    It has also been found that if you read a line of numbers out to someone, the majority of people will only remember the first 7 of them, before either going wrong, or just forgetting.

    As you said - it’s interesting…

  3. xb Says:

    Some 10 or 15 years ago, a study which asked individuals to choose a number between 1 and 20 resulted in the number 17 being picked least frequently.

    At the time that I heard the results of the study on NPR’s All Things Considered, I personally committed to selecting 17 whenever given a chance to choose a random number.

    It will now seem, for want of a better term, less random.