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C-3PO: "Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three thousand seven hundred and twenty to one!"
Han: "Never tell me the odds."

C-3PO: "The odds of successfully surviving an attack on an Imperial Star Destroyer are approximately..."
Leia: "Shut up!"

What was the basis of his calculations for the odds he was stating?

  • 11
    I'm pretty sure there are insurance adjusters in the Star Wars universe. – John O Aug 12 '12 at 4:31
  • 3
    Maybe C3PO is the first foundation? – Chris Aug 12 '12 at 5:36
  • 4
    I believe these are what is known in US on Earth as Cliffometrics or sometimes Clavinometry. Such numbers generally coalesce spontaneously in proximity to the colon particularly when ethanol, malt, barley and hops are introduced. – Chad Aug 13 '12 at 14:53
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    Remember that 94% of all statistics are made up on the spot 76% of the time and are therefore only 48% relevant to 84% of the people who hear or read them and 13% of the people who understand them, but only on every third Friday. – BBlake Aug 13 '12 at 16:32
  • Droids are apparently bad at estimating outside odds since the two instances we see in the movie end with an unlikely outcome given the estimate. – Árni St. Sigurðsson Apr 12 '17 at 13:59
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I'd say just assumptions based on average asteroid field density/size as well as average Star Destroyer stats, etc. I'm not really sure why he'd know, but it might be useful to provide better context when translating or negotiating. Maybe they just wanted to support the fact that droids obviously can know lots of stuff, but they might never be able to determine the right situation to use that knowledge on their own. To be honest, I don't remember that scene in detail. Did C-3PO come up with these on his own or did he just translate R2-D2? In latter case it would most likely be useful as part of his role supporting fighter craft and stuff like that.

Things like that appear in other fiction having self-aware/intelligent AIs too, e.g. Knight Rider. So, even considering there is lots of background stuff behind many things related to Star Wars and I don't have any quote or source for this, I'd still say Lucas just found it neat to have that little discussion.

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  • 1
    R2-D2 earlier mentioned the odds of surving a Hoth night, but the other two odds statements were made by C3PO himself (R2 was not on the same ship). – Toomai Aug 13 '12 at 0:34
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    These lines are obviously there to (1) show the audience that this is a very dangerous action and (2) show the kind of risk-taker Han is. I doubt GL was thinking about what C-3PO should know. – ThePopMachine Aug 13 '12 at 15:07
  • Yeah, possible we're crediting them quite more thoughts than there've been behind that one scene. – Mario Aug 13 '12 at 15:09
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Perhaps it's based on actual circumstances. 3720 ships have attempted to navigate an asteroid field, and 1 made it out. Or some proportion to those numbers. This is the same way we would calculate how likely U are to get eaten by a shark or struck by lightning. It's just based on what has happened to date.

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SPECULATION! (informed speculation)

  • Asteroids:

    As @JohnO's old comment stated, there are insurance companies in Star Wars Galaxy (at least 5 known).

    As such, they most assuredly price and insure against asteroid collisions, including in an asteroid field. It's not impossible to assume C-3PO had access to the actuarial tables for some protocol reason.

  • Star Destroyer:

    As far as odds of surviving an attack on a Star Destroyer, he probably had a statistics of every encounter the Rebel ships had with Empire (he did server Princess Leia Organa and earlier Bail Organa, through entire rebellion, and probably witnessed basically every Rebel war report while being around them).

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