Friday, March 7, 2014

Lottery


Today I bought a lottery ticket.

As a scientifically-minded person, I most often take the point of view of scientists. But on the subject of lottery, I think the scientific community (SC) has lost track of an important point, though it does not invalidate completely what they usually say.

Members of the SC (like Steven Novella) describe lottery as a tax on the poor. In a sense, it is true, considering that the less well-off participate more to lottery than higher classes. Also, the individual cost of each lottery ticket is comparatively higher in percentage when compared to a low salary than when compared to a high salary. So, the criticism is valid.

However, I think something important has been forgotten about lottery. It gives you hope and dreams, plus as a consequence, it also gives you the occasion to discuss with your peers about such dreams and hopes. Certainly, giving hope is not always a good thing, especially if you give people false hope.

But I think national lotteries are rather straightforward and therefore the hope is not false. The chance of taking the big prize home is tiny (1 in 13 millions back in the day). And when considering the total amount of prizes awarded for each rank of winners, players will statistically gain less than what they gamble. That's normal. That's the basics of chance games. And concerning the European lottery "Euromillions", the redistribution rate is 50%. Simple!

I think that these hopes and dreams are what's often dismissed when considering lotteries. This is also the core reason of why people should not buy more than a single ticket. People suck at statistics and they often get the idea that buying 2 tickets increases their chances to win. They're wrong. Lottery is statistically a losing game, so buying 2 tickets will only double their chances to lose. And buying 2 tickets does not increase the hope that you get by buying 1 ticket. The increase in hope and dreams is marginal.


Conclusion

Don't buy more than 1 ticket!

Lottery is statistically a losing game, but you can play for the hope of winning rather than for winning itself.

Tonight's draw has €100,000,000 for the 1st rank winner. Thinking of it, it would certainly help me in some ways, but I'm kind of wary that this has the potential of messing up one's life badly. As a matter of fact, studies have even revealed that you're more likely to become a happy person when losing both of your legs in a car crash than you are to become happy after winning the lottery... which is totally counter-intuitive because our intuition sucks, but that's a different story.

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