Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Vaniver » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Taking a real lottery (Lotto 6/49 in Ontario), it appears that on the order of 10% of the incoming funds are spent on non-jackpots. So ignoring one-in-a-million or worse odd disbursements, you will end up with about 9000$ in total savings.
Wouldn't you end up with $1000 in savings, or am I misinterpreting the 10% of incoming funds?
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11128
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Yakk » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:07 pm UTC

No -- the game I'm proposing is a self-managed lottery. You use the public lottery results to find out how much you "won".

But instead of buying tickets, you stuff money into a sock (or savings account). When you "win", you take that much money out.

Over any reasonably long period of time, the money in the savings account will rapidly become positive. You'll only be withdrawing (on average) 10% of what you put in to simulate your "winnings". Initially, you might have to "owe yourself" the winnings if you get lucky, but that will be rapidly defeated by the progress of time.

That 10% return number ignores the 1 in a million or worse (usually much worse) that you actually pick the jackpot numbers.

The point of all of this is that it emulates, nearly perfectly, the process of buying a ticket and seeing if you win. You pick your numbers, you throw money into a bag, then if you get the right numbers you get to take money out of the bag. Ie, it is the football game with a pool, instead of the managed football game that charges 10$ for every 1$ in prizes. The only difference is that the possibility of you being a long-term net winner goes from a ridiculously teeny tiny number to zero: that last difference can be emulated by checking any lottery tickets that blow into your face to see if they are winners, which gives you a practically identical chance of winning the jackpot to actually buying a ticket. Well, that, and you actually get to keep the 9$ that would otherwise go to the professional football player you never meet and the person who ran the lotteries house...
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Vaniver » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:14 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:No -- the game I'm proposing is a self-managed lottery. You use the public lottery results to find out how much you "won".
Ah, ok. I thought you were comparing socking your money away to playing the lottery- but managing your own lottery with their numbers is a clever synthesis.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Zamfir » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:28 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:No -- the game I'm proposing is a self-managed lottery. You use the public lottery results to find out how much you "won".

But instead of buying tickets, you stuff money into a sock (or savings account). When you "win", you take that much money out.

Over any reasonably long period of time, the money in the savings account will rapidly become positive. You'll only be withdrawing (on average) 10% of what you put in to simulate your "winnings". Initially, you might have to "owe yourself" the winnings if you get lucky, but that will be rapidly defeated by the progress of time.

That 10% return number ignores the 1 in a million or worse (usually much worse) that you actually pick the jackpot numbers.

The point of all of this is that it emulates, nearly perfectly, the process of buying a ticket and seeing if you win. You pick your numbers, you throw money into a bag, then if you get the right numbers you get to take money out of the bag. Ie, it is the football game with a pool, instead of the managed football game that charges 10$ for every 1$ in prizes. The only difference is that the possibility of you being a long-term net winner goes from a ridiculously teeny tiny number to zero: that last difference can be emulated by checking any lottery tickets that blow into your face to see if they are winners, which gives you a practically identical chance of winning the jackpot to actually buying a ticket. Well, that, and you actually get to keep the 9$ that would otherwise go to the professional football player you never meet and the person who ran the lotteries house...


So, this system emulates a lottery except for the important part of one? It's an intriguing idea, but I can't imagine a situation where it is an improvement over other systems.

I mean, the point of a lottery isn't to make you richer or to give you an uneven income stream. The point is that it gives you a clear, credible causal path to wealth, however unlikely. Alternatives like having a suitcase with money blown into your hands, or getting a 100,000-to-1 payoff on the stock market, are not just unlikely, they are incredible. In the literal sense of being hard to believe in. That makes it hard to put them in fantasies.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11128
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Yakk » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:07 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:So, this system emulates a lottery except for the important part of one? It's an intriguing idea, but I can't imagine a situation where it is an improvement over other systems.

If the important part of a lottery is "I might get rich", then I already dealt with it. You have a serious problem, because playing in the lottery and getting rich is not a credible plan.

I repeat: it is not credible that you will ever win the lottery. If you think it is credible, then you don't understand the odds involved.
I mean, the point of a lottery isn't to make you richer or to give you an uneven income stream. The point is that it gives you a clear, credible causal path to wealth, however unlikely. Alternatives like having a suitcase with money blown into your hands, or getting a 100,000-to-1 payoff on the stock market, are not just unlikely, they are incredible. In the literal sense of being hard to believe in. That makes it hard to put them in fantasies.

My causal path to lottery winning wealth -- waiting for the lottery ticket to blow into my face -- is next to indistinguishable from "buy 10 tickets a week and see if I win" path.

Really.

I'll admit that mathematically buying the lottery ticket increases your chances, but the degree to which it increases your chances is negligible. A number nearly arbitrarily close to 0, and another similar number, are both so close to zero as makes no difference. At the scale of an individual human experience, if you think they are different, then you do not understand what is going on, and you are spending money because of your ignorance.

If you do understand what is going on, and really believe it, then my model should be superior.

And the 100,000-1 payoff in the stockmarket? That is more likely than winning the lottery. The stock-market doesn't skim 60% off the top, and you can use it to gamble quite easily. So, if you find winning the lottery to be credible, and making 5 10:1 return stock picks in a row incredible, then this is a problem with your model of reality.

Many humans have such a problem with their model of reality (one could even say most), but that doesn't mean it isn't a problem.

If you are playing for "the chance to win", then you don't understand the odds.

If you are playing to see if you get the right numbers, and for the smaller prizes, then my savings account models that (and saves you ~90% of your money).
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby morriswalters » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:16 pm UTC

There is a conceit here. Am I to believe that anything which doesn't show a positive return on the balance sheet, is "foolish"? So by the logic in place here, movies, games, dining out, books, sporting events, in point of fact, any activity not related to acquiring wealth, is "foolish". Interesting.

Yakk certainly has an interesting idea, I like it. However I fail to see the entertainment value in it. Staring at socks would be a crashing bore. And the bank is no better. I went to my banks web page and stared at it for an hour. Bor-ing.

Generally I don't believe in gambling. My reason for this is that I'm afraid I might win. I have an addictive personality, and most games of chance are designed to make just enough payouts to keep gamblers interested. Slots in point of fact are profit machines designed take advantage of human nature in just this way. The lottery(at least jackpot lotteries) do'nt suffer from this problem since the statistical probability of a payout for significant prize is so low as to be close to zero. However like most arguments made with statistics people tend to mistake close to zero with zero. Forgetting that no mathematical model can perfectly replicate reality. In point of fact jackpot lotteries pay out pretty regularly. And until the numbers are picked each player is as likely as any other player to win. The hook is that there is a winner. However the lottery doesn't provide a large amount of incentive to play more than a small amount. To little feedback. But until that moment when the number are drawn you get to have a little fun thinking that you could be the one. So an almost perfect type of gambling.

The conceit I mentioned at the start is to believe that investments are not gambling. In fact the terminology used in finance and gambling share some commonalities. A cursory search of my memory bring up the term hedge. A term that we all have become familiar with. However the major difference is that it is easier to achieve your goal in the stock market if that goal is to increase your capital. By the way, the losses from my 401k would have paid for all the lottery tickets that I have ever bought and most likely ever will buy.

So Yakk enjoy your sock. Every body else, smoke your feelings of superiority if you got em. Me I gotta get my lottery ticket. :twisted:

User avatar
jakovasaur
Posts: 678
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:43 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby jakovasaur » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:39 pm UTC

@Yakk: I don't know if you're trying to troll here, but you sound like an arrogant douche-bag when you say that you have a "superior model of reality".

Of course, it is patently false that there is anything resembling a decent chance at winning the lottery. However, it is equally untrue to say that there is no difference at all between "zero chance" and "incredibly small chance". Someone wins. Every time. If someone feels that the thrill of entertaining that notion (combined with the relative lack of effort compared to playing the stock market) is worth more than whatever they spend on tickets, who are you to say that their "model of reality" is wrong? The value of playing the lottery is worth whatever the player decides it is. Just because you wouldn't enjoy it that much, and can't understand why anyone would, doesn't mean that other people have the same values as you.

Dark567
First one to notify the boards of Rick and Morty Season 3
Posts: 3686
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:12 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere(in the US, I don't venture outside it too often, unfortunately)

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Dark567 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:00 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote:Someone wins. Every time.


....ummm no. If no one gets the right numbers the state keeps the money.
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

User avatar
meatyochre
Posts: 1524
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:09 am UTC
Location: flying with the Conchords

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:17 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:Someone wins. Every time.


....ummm no. If no one gets the right numbers the state keeps the money.

I don't think that's true. They roll over the winnings into the next pick so the next person just wins more money.

I've always wondered though (please excuse my paranoia), since reading 1984, if large jackpots are actually ever given out. The way the lottery worked in their dystopia was that small prizes were given out at a low rate, but one sufficient to keep the proles paying and playing. Then they completely fabricated the huge jackpots. I only say this because well, I don't know anyone who's ever won the lottery. I don't even know anyone who knows anyone who's won it. Which makes sense statistically speaking. But I dunno. I still feel a little twinge every time I see a million dollar Monopoly winner on a McDonald's bag (for example), like it's just an actor being paid just enough to keep quiet.

Never bought a lottery ticket... and yeah. I'm a little crazy.
Dark567 wrote:"Hey, I created a perpetual motion device"

"yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"

Image

User avatar
meatyochre
Posts: 1524
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:09 am UTC
Location: flying with the Conchords

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:26 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote:
meatyochre wrote:
Dark567 wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:Someone wins. Every time.


....ummm no. If no one gets the right numbers the state keeps the money.

I don't think that's true. They roll over the winnings into the next pick so the next person just wins more money.

I've always wondered though (please excuse my paranoia), since reading 1984, if large jackpots are actually ever given out. The way the lottery worked in their dystopia was that small prizes were given out at a low rate, but one sufficient to keep the proles paying and playing. Then they completely fabricated the huge jackpots. I only say this because well, I don't know anyone who's ever won the lottery. I don't even know anyone who knows anyone who's won it. Which makes sense statistically speaking. But I dunno. I still feel a little twinge every time I see a million dollar Monopoly winner on a McDonald's bag (for example), like it's just an actor being paid just enough to keep quiet.

Never bought a lottery ticket... and yeah. I'm a little crazy.

The parents of a kid in my elementary school won $4 million.

How did it work out for them? Did they squander it and neglect to report it on taxes? Or were they pretty happy
Dark567 wrote:"Hey, I created a perpetual motion device"

"yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"

Image

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby guenther » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:34 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote:Someone wins. Every time.

Here's an interesting thought experiment I heard recently (can't remember where).

Imagine a lottery with 100 tickets. In one scenario, 99 of the tickets have been purchased by 99 separate people, do you buy the remaining ticket? This is the normal lottery.

Now imagine the same lottery, but one guy named Joe bought 99 of the tickets. Do you buy the last ticket? Here Joe has a 99% chance of winning.

Fewer people would play in the second lottery than the first even though the scenario does nothing to the odds of you winning. The suspected cause of the difference is how readily we can imagine ourselves as the winner.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

User avatar
jakovasaur
Posts: 678
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:43 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby jakovasaur » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:00 am UTC

meatyochre wrote:How did it work out for them? Did they squander it and neglect to report it on taxes? Or were they pretty happy

I have no clue, because I moved away. Hopefully it turned out well.
guenther wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:Someone wins. Every time.

Here's an interesting thought experiment I heard recently (can't remember where).

Imagine a lottery with 100 tickets. In one scenario, 99 of the tickets have been purchased by 99 separate people, do you buy the remaining ticket? This is the normal lottery.

Now imagine the same lottery, but one guy named Joe bought 99 of the tickets. Do you buy the last ticket? Here Joe has a 99% chance of winning.

Fewer people would play in the second lottery than the first even though the scenario does nothing to the odds of you winning. The suspected cause of the difference is how readily we can imagine ourselves as the winner.

For me, the reluctance to buy in the second scenario seems more tied to the fact that I'm aware of an actual person, Joe, who is probably going to win. I'm okay with losing, but I can't help but feel bitter toward hypothetical Joe and the inside track he's got. I refuse to buy a ticket because I won't give that smug bastard the satisfaction of beating me...But that's probably just indicative of my own issues.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11128
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Yakk » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:06 am UTC

jakovasaur wrote:@Yakk: I don't know if you're trying to troll here, but you sound like an arrogant douche-bag when you say that you have a "superior model of reality".

Of course, it is patently false that there is anything resembling a decent chance at winning the lottery. However, it is equally untrue to say that there is no difference at all between "zero chance" and "incredibly small chance".

And there is a non-zero chance that the winning lottery ticket will blow into my face, and I'll check it.

I'm saying that distinguishing between "waiting for the winning lottery ticket to blow into your face" and "buying a ticket, and seeing if it wins" is negligible. Teeny. Tiny. Ridiculously small.
Someone wins. Every time. If someone feels that the thrill of entertaining that notion (combined with the relative lack of effort compared to playing the stock market) is worth more than whatever they spend on tickets, who are you to say that their "model of reality" is wrong?

Because entertaining that notion can be done without spending money. If you bought 42 tickets every day from now to the beginning of recorded history, then you'd have a roughly 50-50 chance of winning once. That is the scale of the odds against you winning.

Thinking that buying a ticket has a significant impact on your chances of winning is what I'm pointing out as being flawed. You can entertain the notion of winning without buying the ticket, because the ticket has no practical impact on your odds of winning -- they are personally indistinguishable from zero, regardless of if you bought the ticket or not.

Buying a lottery ticket and thinking this has a non-negligible chance of impacting positively your chance of being a millionaire is like a 5' nothing 20 year old person thinking that he is going to be in the NBA if he just practices more. Sure, it could happen -- but the chances are so close to zero it isn't funny.
The value of playing the lottery is worth whatever the player decides it is. Just because you wouldn't enjoy it that much, and can't understand why anyone would, doesn't mean that other people have the same values as you.

Sure. And just because they have different values, doesn't mean they aren't wrong.
The parents of a kid in my elementary school won $4 million.

And the guy I picked up hitch-hiking today is dating the mother of an NHL player, who bought him a kick-ass classic sports car for fathers day.

The number of people within 2 or 3 social steps of you is ridiculously large.
morriswalters wrote:There is a conceit here. Am I to believe that anything which doesn't show a positive return on the balance sheet, is "foolish"? So by the logic in place here, movies, games, dining out, books, sporting events, in point of fact, any activity not related to acquiring wealth, is "foolish". Interesting.

Thinking that buying a lottery ticket has a non-negligible impact on your chance of winning the lottery is foolish.

Buying a lottery ticket could be ok: but thinking that it moves winning the jackpot from "impossible" to "possible" is foolish. It was possible before, and the impact of buying the lottery ticket on your increased odds is ridiculously tiny as it really makes no difference.

Now, the lottery company spends a bunch of money convincing you that buying that ticket has a significant impact on your chances of winning the lottery. But don't confuse marketing with reality.
Yakk certainly has an interesting idea, I like it. However I fail to see the entertainment value in it. Staring at socks would be a crashing bore. And the bank is no better. I went to my banks web page and stared at it for an hour. Bor-ing.

No -- you are still looking at the lottery numbers. If you win, you take the "winnings" you would have won out of your bank account/socks. Yay, you won the guess the numbers game!

As it is nearly completely certain that you'll have enough money in the "buy tickets" socks (after a few years) to pay for your "winnings", this emulates playing the lottery extremely well, but is far cheaper.

If you require a "possibility" of a windfall, you can also pick a stock from some list at random and put 1000$ blocks (of the money that doesn't come back to you in winnings) into purchasing it, and liquidate if they hit 10,000$. That will provide a positive expected return, and the possibility of a windfall.
Generally I don't believe in gambling. My reason for this is that I'm afraid I might win. I have an addictive personality, and most games of chance are designed to make just enough payouts to keep gamblers interested. Slots in point of fact are profit machines designed take advantage of human nature in just this way. The lottery(at least jackpot lotteries) do'nt suffer from this problem since the statistical probability of a payout for significant prize is so low as to be close to zero. However like most arguments made with statistics people tend to mistake close to zero with zero. Forgetting that no mathematical model can perfectly replicate reality. In point of fact jackpot lotteries pay out pretty regularly. And until the numbers are picked each player is as likely as any other player to win. The hook is that there is a winner. However the lottery doesn't provide a large amount of incentive to play more than a small amount. To little feedback. But until that moment when the number are drawn you get to have a little fun thinking that you could be the one. So an almost perfect type of gambling.

The number of people hooked on lotteries belies your argument. Lotteries are quite addictive -- admittedly, they aren't as likely to spiral into massive self destroying purges of all wealth as other forms of instant-gratification gambling are.

But the number of people with an extremely strong lottery "habit" points out how addictive they are.

It is a form of false hope that sells quite effectively to the disenfranchised and uneducated.
Image
See the image here:
http://squaringtheglobe.blogspot.com/20 ... whose.html

Less than HS: 2x expenditure on lottery
Black: 3x expenditure on lottery
College: 1/2x expenditure on lottery
White: 2/3x expenditure on lottery

Participation rates go up with wealth, but spending per capita/player goes up with poverty.

My point is that lotteries are evil.
The conceit I mentioned at the start is to believe that investments are not gambling.

Sure, they are gambling. But at least they can easily be positive-sum gambling.

There is no structure under which lottery purchases can be positive-sum for the "investors". It is morally like a Bernie Madoff scam on a state level.

The only decent moral argument I can see for supporting legal and state backed lotteries is that it keeps organized crime out of it, because there is a huge demand for buying lottery tickets. On the other hand, I find the rate at which (and the methods at which) they are advertised to be evil -- they should be treated like cigarettes, with warnings and advice not to buy them on each ticket.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
phlip
Restorer of Worlds
Posts: 7572
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:56 am UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby phlip » Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:05 am UTC

Paraphrased, in another thread, phlip wrote:You're right, objective facts and your subjective opinion are more important than my subjective opinion for the question of what I find entertaining. I'll stop having fun immediately.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Charlie! » Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:19 am UTC

phlip wrote:
Paraphrased, in another thread, phlip wrote:You're right, objective facts and your subjective opinion are more important than my subjective opinion for the question of what I find entertaining. I'll stop having fun immediately.

It's really the same problem as regulating cocaine. The people who use it enjoy it, but at some point people doing harmful things, even if they want to do them, is bad enough for society that we'll try to stop it.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

User avatar
meatyochre
Posts: 1524
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:09 am UTC
Location: flying with the Conchords

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby meatyochre » Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:45 am UTC

Charlie! wrote:
phlip wrote:
Paraphrased, in another thread, phlip wrote:You're right, objective facts and your subjective opinion are more important than my subjective opinion for the question of what I find entertaining. I'll stop having fun immediately.

It's really the same problem as regulating cocaine. The people who use it enjoy it, but at some point people doing harmful things, even if they want to do them, is bad enough for society that we'll try to stop it.

But um, lotteries are run by the states. And generate lots of societal tax dollars. Although I guess you might have an analogy if the government was selling crack and generating tax dollars with it.
Dark567 wrote:"Hey, I created a perpetual motion device"

"yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"

Image

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6579
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Thesh » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:34 am UTC

Indon wrote:If schools covered topics such as the Gambler's Fallacy, I imagine gambling rates would decrease, at least for the more house-tilted games.


I don't know, I doubt most would actually learn anything in that. I was arguing with several people about roulette who had previously taken statistics classes. The question was basically this: if you won in roulette playing a single number, would you change your bet? I argued that it didn't matter and that it is equally unlikely that you will win no matter number you play. The people who had taken statistics classes argued that because you hit the number it was less likely to come up again, because the odds of a number coming up twice in a row were very high.

I argued that the odds of a number coming up twice is as equally likely as any other combination. I tried to explain that if you flip a coin twice, there is a 50% chance that the same side will come up twice and a 50% chance that they will come up different, and the odds are only worse if you bet on a specific side coming up twice. I explained that the odds of landing on a number once on a roulette wheel with 38 numbers is 1in 38. The odds of landing on it twice are the odds of the first spin times the odds of the second spin (1/38) * (1/38) and that is because each spin has a 1 in 38 chance, but if you have already landed on the number in the first spin then you are more likely to win than when you started because that number is thrown out of the equation and you are left with odds of 1 in 38.

I tried in every way I knew how, but they just could not grasp the concept. One of them actually claims he has a winning strategy for roulette. This is after taking a statistics class.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:18 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
morriswalters wrote:There is a conceit here. Am I to believe that anything which doesn't show a positive return on the balance sheet, is "foolish"? So by the logic in place here, movies, games, dining out, books, sporting events, in point of fact, any activity not related to acquiring wealth, is "foolish". Interesting.


Thinking that buying a lottery ticket has a non-negligible impact on your chance of winning the lottery is foolish.
Buying a lottery ticket could be ok: but thinking that it moves winning the jackpot from "impossible" to "possible" is foolish. It was possible before, and the impact of buying the lottery ticket on your increased odds is ridiculously tiny as it really makes no difference.

Now, the lottery company spends a bunch of money convincing you that buying that ticket has a significant impact on your chances of winning the lottery. But don't confuse marketing with reality.

I'm not sure the word evil really applies to the lottery, however the ethical or moral position of anyone else is of no interest to me unless it can be shown to impact me. So if there are people who are addicted to playing jackpot lotteries that makes no difference to my behavior. This is subject to the possibility of a connection that I am currently unaware of. However the reason I responded was because of the quoted passage. In particular the phrase "Buying a lottery ticket could be ok: but thinking that it moves winning the jackpot from "impossible" to "possible" is foolish.". I don't mind being called foolish, I often am. If however you choose to do so please make sure that what you are telling me I'm foolish about is correct. The possibility of winning a lottery by buying a ticket is a binary solution. If you buy a lottery ticket it is "possible" to win. If you don't buy a lottery ticket it is "impossible" to win. Buying a lottery ticket speaks to the eligibility to participate, not the odds of winning.

Tomo
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Tomo » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:57 am UTC

Yakk wrote:I'm saying that distinguishing between "waiting for the winning lottery ticket to blow into your face" and "buying a ticket, and seeing if it wins" is negligible. Teeny. Tiny. Ridiculously small.
...
Thinking that buying a ticket has a significant impact on your chances of winning is what I'm pointing out as being flawed. You can entertain the notion of winning without buying the ticket, because the ticket has no practical impact on your odds of winning -- they are personally indistinguishable from zero, regardless of if you bought the ticket or not.
...
Thinking that buying a lottery ticket has a non-negligible impact on your chance of winning the lottery is foolish.


I'm really not sure where this comes from, but I'd suggest that it's you who have no understanding of the odds involved. A quick google search for "finding lottery tickets" shows no-one, ever who has found a lottery ticket by it blowing into their face - the chance of that happening is ridiculously small.

On the other hand, the chances of making money from the UK national lottery is roughly 1/54.

Admittedly, those odds give you a £10 payout on a £1 bet, which is still an E(win) of way less than zero, but it's certainly a "significant increase" over not buying a ticket.

In fact, the more you post in this thread, the more I'm convinced you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. You're repeatedly ignoring the enjoyment aspect, the adrenaline that comes with risk, and the fact that everyone has agreed that most people play the lottery for the wrong reasons, in order to assert your imagined superiority and repeat the same tired rhetoric about your false "ticket blowing into face" fantasy.

But to be honest, none of that even matters - the point at hand is that it's foolish to believe every partaker of a given action is blind or stupid. Personally I scored in the top 0.01% of my country for my university entrance exams, hold two degrees, teach physics at a highly regarded university, have a fiance who outsmarts me in every way, and am still damn sure I'm not the smartest person arguing against you, let alone the smartest person who has played the lottery. And if you still want to think I'm stupid for playing the lottery sporadically for fun, that's fine! it's the internet, I'm not fussed.

But saying everyone who plays the lottery is blind and stupid is arrogant, close-minded and foolish. It doesn't even matter how few smart people play it, finding a smart lottery player could be about as likely as actually winning the jackpot. It's still prejudiced to assume a given lottery player is stupid simply because you don't agree with their methods of enjoyment, and it makes you seem like an ass.
"Pick a number between 1 and 10."
"0.9999...?"

User avatar
JonR
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 11:44 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby JonR » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:31 pm UTC

so instead of playing the lotto, I put £1 in a jar, and if I win, I take money from that jar, and I'm guessing that I'm not going to win very often (any prize once every 54 goes), so I'm likely to end up with enough money in the jar to 'pay out' any winnings, and I'd have to be unfortunate to win big on my first few goes.

so to take this one step further, I can set up a syndicate at work - say 10 people, take £1 of each of them, and 'buy' lottory tickets - and put the £10 in a jar.
I'm assuming that we probably won't win, so there'll be £10 in the jar, that everyone is happy that they spent on lottory tickets, and lost.
next week, same again, and maybe we get 3 numbers, so the syndicate gets £10 (from my pot), which is shared out, and I've still got £10 in the pot (from the second week).
now assuming that we don't actually win big (more than a few thousand quid), I'm going to be collecting £10 a week, and hardly ever paying out money back to the syndicate.
as long as they don't ask for proof of purchase of tickets, I'll be ok. Because we're never going to win.

... unfortunately that's called fraud, and when I get found out, I'm arrested and put in prison.
"I thought you had Kings!" - boy did I laugh.

Nem
Posts: 336
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:19 pm UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Nem » Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

I find it interesting that someone mentioned insurance earlier, since I don't buy any. When I left home I started investing the money I saved from not buying insurance. At this point, ten years on, if my flat burns down I've more than enough to replace the contents out of hand. Insurance only makes sense for items that you couldn't really afford in the first place - purchased with a mortgage for instance - or when you run above average risks. Otherwise there are better things you can do with your money.

Surely that's what determines the rationality of a course of action? The alternatives that would also achieve a given end. Whether it's rational to play the lottery is then impossible to give an answer on without incorporating the goals and character of the agent. Especially for people who do it purely for pleasure, since whether they could get a similar or greater pleasure from a different investment is necessarily subjective.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11128
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Yakk » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:14 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:I don't know, I doubt most would actually learn anything in that. I was arguing with several people about roulette who had previously taken statistics classes. The question was basically this: if you won in roulette playing a single number, would you change your bet? I argued that it didn't matter and that it is equally unlikely that you will win no matter number you play. The people who had taken statistics classes argued that because you hit the number it was less likely to come up again, because the odds of a number coming up twice in a row were very high.

This simply demonstrates that you can lead a horse to stats, but you cannot make the horse learn. (Your friends taking are wrong because dispite taking the class, they don't understand stats)
morriswalters wrote:I don't mind being called foolish, I often am. If however you choose to do so please make sure that what you are telling me I'm foolish about is correct. The possibility of winning a lottery by buying a ticket is a binary solution. If you buy a lottery ticket it is "possible" to win. If you don't buy a lottery ticket it is "impossible" to win. Buying a lottery ticket speaks to the eligibility to participate, not the odds of winning.

A lottery ticket could blow into my face, and turn out to be the winning one.

This is very unlikely. But, to all practical purposes on an individual level, it about as likely as buying a ticket, and that ticket happening to be the winning one.

Anything is "possible". The fact that buying a ticket is marketed (quite successfully) as part of the narrative that makes you think it goes from "impossible" to "possible" to win the lottery is a flaw in human understanding of the scale of probabilities involved in the lottery.
Tomo wrote:I'm really not sure where this comes from, but I'd suggest that it's you who have no understanding of the odds involved. A quick google search for "finding lottery tickets" shows no-one, ever who has found a lottery ticket by it blowing into their face - the chance of that happening is ridiculously small.

On the other hand, the chances of making money from the UK national lottery is roughly 1/54.

Admittedly, those odds give you a £10 payout on a £1 bet, which is still an E(win) of way less than zero, but it's certainly a "significant increase" over not buying a ticket.

Spoiler:
My apologies for not fully qualifying every single statement I made in my previous post which you responded to. I'll try to fix that (that being the lack of fully qualification of every statement, as mentioned in my previous sentence) using some small amount of extra effort in this post, while also being overly verbose in order to indicate how much having each sentence stand alone makes writing (and reading) sentences really hard. At this point you probably want to skip to the next paragraph, because I'm going to be qualifying the rest of this paragraph (because you seem to have read a single sentence in my previous post, and then interpreted it in the way that makes it wrong, instead of reading it in the context of my post, which I think made it clear that the use of the word 'winning' refers to winning the jackpot, as in "first place", as in "winning a race" (which I admit is ambiguous in the general case, as winning as in "coming out ahead" is a reasonable use of the word winning in the general case, and the sentence "I won when I did X" (where X is a placeholder for some other term, a pattern of language stolen from mathematical formulas (often algebraic, like polynomials) where the variable X is replaced by some other term (and while algebra goes deeper than this, it does cover much of the casual interaction that most people get with it) at a later date) can include just "being ahead of the game". And similarly, saying "I won" when you only got a SUV (sports utility veihicle) from Rrrroooll up the Rrrrrim to Win (a Canadian Coffee shop promotion, with expected value per cup on the order of a few cents) and disputing it would be an ass move (this sentence is pointing out that your interpretation of "winning" as including the 10$ prizes for a 1$ ticket is not wrong in and of itself, while not conceeding that in the context of my post and in a debate taking the least reasonable interpretation of what someone says is acceptable) and at this point I think I'm going to close a bracket) was pretty clear, after you included context, such as my prior model in which I had lesser prizes (with the exception of the grand prize) payed out from a savings account, while I neglected the grand prize, in an attempt to show that 90% of the incoming revenue practically goes to things that you will almost certainly never see) to a ridiculous extent), which I think illustrates the point well.


In short, when I said "winning" in the above post, I meant "winning the jackpot". Lesser "winnings" where modeled via the sock/savings account model. "Winning the jackpot" is the same kind of event as "having a winning lottery ticket blow into your face" -- both are things that have a chance of happening so close to zero that changing your behavior based on them is very questionable.
In fact, the more you post in this thread, the more I'm convinced you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. You're repeatedly ignoring the enjoyment aspect, the adrenaline that comes with risk, and the fact that everyone has agreed that most people play the lottery for the wrong reasons, in order to assert your imagined superiority and repeat the same tired rhetoric about your false "ticket blowing into face" fantasy.

It seems people enjoy the lottery because they imagine that owning the ticket allows them to imagine that they will win the jackpot. I believe that this is because of the narrative that is constructed, rather than because of a true understanding of the probabilities. Ie, they are buying marketing.

To illustrate this, I made a model that replicated pretty accurately everything except the jackpot possibility, using a sock/savings account, for almost any regular lottery player. All it lacks is the ability to model the negligible jackpot win. The goal of this model was to demonstrate it actually is the "possibility" (and I use quotes on purpose) of winning the jackpot that gets people to play the lottery constantly.

And I'm holding that people do not understand, really, how thin the connection is between "buying a ticket" and "winning the lottery". These games are set up so we can fool ourselves with a narrative in which our choice to buy the ticket (or not) leads directly to winning the lottery.
[SNIP that you are smart -- I can tell you are smart from your posts, I don't need a list of qualifications.]
But saying everyone who plays the lottery is blind and stupid is arrogant, close-minded and foolish.
Why are you attributing the subject of the discussion, posted by someone else, to me?

I believe I used the word "foolish" to refer to one specific set of beliefs about the strength of a connection between two events. You seem to be attributing other peoples positions to me. Maybe I called people blind and close-minded. If so, could you point out where I did? I would want to correct myself. Thanks.

Look: I understand the temptation to buy a lottery ticket. I've felt myself justifying gambling in my head more than once. I'm quite foolish. My gut is as bad at understanding probability as any lottery player.

It doesn't mean that falling for the trick doesn't make you a fool.

Human beings are really bad at dealing with probabilities. We have built reasonably complex structures that we are also pretty bad at dealing with in order to help ourselves deal with probabilities (we call this statistics and/or other forms of mathematics). But our guts still say that the narrative of "buy a lottery ticket, then see the numbers drawn, and then be a millionaire" existing makes it feel ridiculously more likely than it actually is.

Lotteries systematically, by design, fool our gut understanding of probability.

And they then abuse this gut misunderstanding to set up extremely biased games (in favour of the house) and attempt to generate mass addiction to them.

Now, I guess you could buy the Lottery ticket for the same reason you'd go to a special effects movie -- you know that the work on the screen is fiction, but you enjoy seeing it regardless. You'd think that if this was actually the case (that what you want is the seeming), a fake lottery ticket would do just as well -- I guess it might be like seeing a movie and being told that all of the stunts in it where actually done by Jackie Chan? (while being aware that the movie studios lie about that kind of thing regularly, but avoiding actually verifying the truth in order to make the movie more enjoyable). Then you watch the exact same movie (buying it each time) every few years, to renew the feeling?

--

The cocaine thing is actually pretty similar to why I call lotteries evil. The banning of hard drugs means that criminal syndicates distribute and sell them instead, which leads to failed states and destroys lives at scales larger than the drug itself causes.

So I understand why lotteries should be legal -- in order to undercut the mafia. At the same time, the fact that we are doing mass-addiction of huge chunks of the populace (did you see the per-capita spending on lottery tickets in my previous link? And notice how much higher it is among the disenfranchised? lotteries are hope-heroin) to them is also evil.

Drugs/lottery tickets/etc should be sold by a body that spends its profits on anti-marketing of the respective industry. I guess I should still be worried about fads for "illegal" versions of the above being much better marketed (sort of like how being a member of a "mainstream" religion with lots of rituals etc might immunize you against being sucked into a cult?)
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
JBJ
Posts: 1263
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:20 pm UTC
Location: a point or extent in space

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby JBJ » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:17 pm UTC

meatyochre wrote:
Dark567 wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:Someone wins. Every time.


....ummm no. If no one gets the right numbers the state keeps the money.

I don't think that's true. They roll over the winnings into the next pick so the next person just wins more money.

I've always wondered though (please excuse my paranoia), since reading 1984, if large jackpots are actually ever given out. The way the lottery worked in their dystopia was that small prizes were given out at a low rate, but one sufficient to keep the proles paying and playing. Then they completely fabricated the huge jackpots. I only say this because well, I don't know anyone who's ever won the lottery. I don't even know anyone who knows anyone who's won it. Which makes sense statistically speaking. But I dunno. I still feel a little twinge every time I see a million dollar Monopoly winner on a McDonald's bag (for example), like it's just an actor being paid just enough to keep quiet.

Never bought a lottery ticket... and yeah. I'm a little crazy.

I know this was a little further up the thread, but I didn't see an answer.
Large jackpots are given out, but never the whole amount up front. The full payout is given over a period of 20-30 years. Usually 30 years for the multi-million dollar jackpots. Many offer a lump sum payment, but the payout is only 40-60% of the advertised jackpot. For example, if you won $90 million in PowerBall, you could take ~$45 million in one payment, or $3 million a year over 30 years.
So, you sacked the cocky khaki Kicky Sack sock plucker?
The second cocky khaki Kicky Sack sock plucker I've sacked since the sixth sitting sheet slitter got sick.

yukizora
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:13 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby yukizora » Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:50 pm UTC

Yes, people can be blinded by the possible winnings of the lottery. And they don't always grasp how little their chance to win is.
What they usually get, is how much they can win, and that there will be someone who will win.
I'm cool with buying a lottery ticket to gain millions with no significant money. Like you've got 2 bucks in your pocket at the end of the week and you get a lottery ticket, knowing that you statistically lost let's say half of your money, but that you'll lose maybe 20 dollars a year this way. This shouldn't be a pain for most people, and if you win, it could really change your life.
Then when we get to big numbers, like hundreds or thousands, it's quite clear that you could make better use of this money, and if you keep this spare money, then you will probably be able to do great projects, and even if the lottery ticket could make you win thousands, what if you've already paid more than that in lottery tickets?

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:07 pm UTC

Time to move on.

Yakk you seem to bound and determined to think that I don't understand how unlikely it is that I will win the lottery.(The number is 1 in 195,249,054.00) It seems as if you choose to assume that I would not buy lottery tickets if I perceived the odds as well as you do and that because I do it indicates that I am foolish or addicted. I believe this is a fallacy of superior knowledge. As such continued discussion is pointless, however it has been fun. So possibly we will cross swords again.

Toodles

User avatar
Indon
Posts: 4433
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:21 pm UTC
Location: Alabama :(
Contact:

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Indon » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:11 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:I argued that it didn't matter and that it is equally unlikely that you will win no matter number you play. The people who had taken statistics classes argued that because you hit the number it was less likely to come up again, because the odds of a number coming up twice in a row were very high.

Your friends are literally making the gambler's fallacy, using what may well be the most classic example of the gambler's fallacy, that of gambling at roulette.

That class must have sucked.

JonR wrote:... unfortunately that's called fraud, and when I get found out, I'm arrested and put in prison.


That's not fraud, so long as you're honest and notify them that you're the one running the lottery.

There is a fairly reliable and profitable way to gamble - all you have to do is be the house and run a game biased towards you, like lotteries are.

morriswalters wrote:(The number is 1 in 195,249,054.00)

Wait what?

But, er... where even does this number come from? It would vary from lottery to lottery, or even from draw to draw within that lottery.

Edit: Totally didn't realize literally was awesomeified. Very nice.
So, I like talking. So if you want to talk about something with me, feel free to send me a PM.

My blog, now rarely updated.

Image

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11128
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Yakk » Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:55 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Time to move on.

Yakk you seem to bound and determined to think that I don't understand how unlikely it is that I will win the lottery.

Given that I have responded to you exactly once, and at that time it was because you claimed it was impossible to win the lottery without buying a ticket, you have a strange interpretation of bound and determined. You made a claim that winning the lottery without buying a ticket was impossible -- I disagree, and merely claim it is ridiculously improbable.

I am claiming that it is possible to win the lottery without buying a ticket. Practically, this will not happen in your life with nearly perfect certainty. However, if you bought a ticket every single day, it would still not practically happen in your life with nearly perfect certainty.
(The number is 1 in 195,249,054.00)

People are really bad at understanding big numbers. I am not aware of a single human being who can understand the odds you described in their guts. Maybe you are one of the few chosen beings with an intuitive grasp of astronomical numbers that lets you behave rationally when everyone else wanders blind, but you can understand why I doubt it.
It seems as if you choose to assume that I would not buy lottery tickets if I perceived the odds as well as you do and that because I do it indicates that I am foolish or addicted.

Can you understand that you might find it fun because you are foolishly not able to understand the scale of numbers in the 100s of millions?

I'm not claiming that I do -- I'm claiming that no human does. I'm claiming that statistical tools give you something of a grasp of how ridiculously unlikely that is.f

Anyhow, good day.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:47 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
Thesh wrote:I argued that it didn't matter and that it is equally unlikely that you will win no matter number you play. The people who had taken statistics classes argued that because you hit the number it was less likely to come up again, because the odds of a number coming up twice in a row were very high.

Your friends are "literally" making the gambler's fallacy, using what may well be the most classic example of the gambler's fallacy, that of gambling at roulette.

That class must have sucked.

JonR wrote:... unfortunately that's called fraud, and when I get found out, I'm arrested and put in prison.


That's not fraud, so long as you're honest and notify them that you're the one running the lottery.

There is a fairly reliable and profitable way to gamble - all you have to do is be the house and run a game biased towards you, like lotteries are.

morriswalters wrote:(The number is 1 in 195,249,054.00)

Wait what?

But, er... where even does this number come from? It would vary from lottery to lottery, or even from draw to draw within that lottery.

Edit: Totally didn't realize "literally" was awesomeified. Very nice.


The number comes from the operators of the lottery. The number is independent from the play. The odds are determined from the number of possible combination's of winning numbers.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Zamfir » Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:50 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Now, I guess you could buy the Lottery ticket for the same reason you'd go to a special effects movie -- you know that the work on the screen is fiction, but you enjoy seeing it regardless. You'd think that if this was actually the case (that what you want is the seeming), a fake lottery ticket would do just as well -- I guess it might be like seeing a movie and being told that all of the stunts in it where actually done by Jackie Chan? (while being aware that the movie studios lie about that kind of thing regularly, but avoiding actually verifying the truth in order to make the movie more enjoyable). Then you watch the exact same movie (buying it each time) every few years, to renew the feeling?


I'd say the movie analogy comes close. Pretty much all human beings have a failure in their visual system. It makes it hard for us to distinguish between the projections on a screen and the reflections off real objects. We know this, and we can take it into account. but we still react to movies partly as if we are watching real life. We have a similar emotional failure when watching actors: no matter how much we know it's fake, we can't help reacting to them.

In practice, we are very happy with those failures. They allow us to enjoy movies even when we are fully aware they are not real life and not real people. We react even stronger to things we think are real (like the news), but movies are still enjoyable.
Big-eyed cute animals trigger our "it's a baby" circuits, which is clearly a failure. I still like kittens.


Lottery works on another failure, you are completely right there. We can see the causal mechanism, and we know there are actual jackpot winners. So we categorize winning the jackpot in the "possible" category, no matter how often we do the calculations. Some people enjoy that. I personally don't enjoy it enough to pay the price, but others do.

But if people enjoy that failure, why is it a problem? Anymore than people paying for movie tickets is a problem?

Sure, some people overdose on the feeling. They spend more than they can afford, and this is a problem. Particular forms of gambling could be indeed be called evil, because they lead a lot of people to overspend. But the far, far majority of lottery tickets are sold to people who can easily afford it, just as they can afford to buy movie tickets.

User avatar
Indon
Posts: 4433
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:21 pm UTC
Location: Alabama :(
Contact:

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Indon » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:38 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:The number comes from the operators of the lottery. The number is independent from the play. The odds are determined from the number of possible combination's of winning numbers.


But your prospective winnings from the jackpot decrease as the number of people playing increase, which skews your odds to win the jackpot even if the numbers don't change.
So, I like talking. So if you want to talk about something with me, feel free to send me a PM.

My blog, now rarely updated.

Image

User avatar
Crius
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Crius » Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Can you understand that you might find it fun because you are foolishly not able to understand the scale of numbers in the 100s of millions?


This seems... rather insulting. We enjoying eating certain foods and having sex due to an evolutionary mechanisms, but it doesn't make those activities any less enjoyable. I don't think the source of enjoyment is relevant, rather if the enjoyment is worth what you spend on it.

Indon wrote:But your prospective winnings from the jackpot decrease as the number of people playing increase, which skews your odds to win the jackpot even if the numbers don't change.


Well, the chances of winning the jackpot stay the same, but the chances of needing to share it increase. However, in most of the powerball type lotteries, the payout increases as more people play so it (kind of) evens out.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:18 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
morriswalters wrote:The number comes from the operators of the lottery. The number is independent from the play. The odds are determined from the number of possible combination's of winning numbers.


But your prospective winnings from the jackpot decrease as the number of people playing increase, which skews your odds to win the jackpot even if the numbers don't change.


This is complex so I may not get it completely right. The odds of winning never change. period. It's a fixed number. The only thing players buying tickets does is increase the jackpot for the next drawing if there is no winner for the current drawing. The only other metric affected by the number of players is the chance of a winning ticket being sold. That chance is the number of tickets sold divided by the number of possible plays. There will never be enough players to purchase all of the available matches so sometimes no one gets a match which is why the lottery sometimes gets so large. At no time do the odds get better, and you start fresh every time. There is no strategy that makes an appreciable difference to the odds, none. The fun of playing the lottery is the thought you could win not the possibility that you can reasonably expect to.

User avatar
JonR
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 11:44 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby JonR » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:25 am UTC

that's the point though - it would be fraud, because the people in the syndicate would think that they're playing Lotto, with a chance of winning the prizes on offer, when in fact they're giving money to me, I'm not buying tickets, but if the numbers should come up, I'm 'paying out' - I'm only screwed if we win big (more than a few hundred pounds), or if people ask for proof of purchase of the tickets. If I explained how it was really working, that they were giving money to me, and I'd pay out if the numbers matched the real lotto numbers, most wouldn't bother, as they realise that if they hit the big one, I have no chance of paying out (however rediculously small a chance this is).

the roulette question about playing the same number twice is easily shown to be wrong by explaining 'mutual exclusivity' - each spin is mutually exclusive to all other spins, they are completely unrelated, no spin knows what the previous spin was, or is affected in any way by that spin, so the odds of landing on any number on any spin are always 1/38. The sequence of spin results 1,3,5,7 is equally as unlikely as 14,14,14,14, but if the ball did land on 14 three times running, you'd expect that number to recieve a lot more bets for the fourth spin, even though the odds are exactly still 1/38. it's when sequences of numbers turn up like this that the casino loses out (temporarily and relatively).
"I thought you had Kings!" - boy did I laugh.

User avatar
tastelikecoke
Posts: 1208
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:58 am UTC
Location: Antipode of Brazil
Contact:

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby tastelikecoke » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:45 pm UTC

Lotto acts like a very good plot device. I think that serves the purpose well.

Lotto does make people figuratively blind and stupid, but not all of them. Anyone can just play for fun, but you can ignore those guys since there are some people who aren't having fun yet flushing money on the toilet.

And apparently people are pointing out that people don't gain happiness from winning a lotto.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:15 pm UTC

tastelikecoke wrote:Lotto acts like a very good plot device. I think that serves the purpose well.

Lotto does make people figuratively blind and stupid, but not all of them. Anyone can just play for fun, but you can ignore those guys since there are some people who aren't having fun yet flushing money on the toilet.

And apparently people are pointing out that people don't gain happiness from winning a lotto.


I stand humbled before your irreverence :D .

User avatar
Indon
Posts: 4433
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:21 pm UTC
Location: Alabama :(
Contact:

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Indon » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:24 pm UTC

Crius wrote:Well, the chances of winning the jackpot stay the same, but the chances of needing to share it increase. However, in most of the powerball type lotteries, the payout increases as more people play so it (kind of) evens out.


It would even out for any lottery with an expected long-term return of zero - that is to say, for each dollar spent into the lottery, you have a 1/X chance of winning X dollars.

Lotteries have a negative return rate. Returns decrease as the number of people playing increase, because doubling the number of people playing will double the prospective number of jackpot winners, but not double the pot they need to split. Your individual cut will decrease with more players.

morriswalters wrote:This is complex so I may not get it completely right.

It's not complex. If two people win, you need to split the pot. This possibility reduces your average expected winnings.

There is one and only one long-term winning strategy to a game with negative expected returns - and that is not to play.

In fact... I suppose one could argue that this makes all such gamblers scrubs, making much of this discussion a classic gaming discussion about fun from optimization v. fun in opposition to optimization, only with real money.

I find that in most games, I qualify as a scrub, but apparently when it comes to gambling I'm a firm Stop Having Fun Guy.
So, I like talking. So if you want to talk about something with me, feel free to send me a PM.

My blog, now rarely updated.

Image

Dark567
First one to notify the boards of Rick and Morty Season 3
Posts: 3686
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:12 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere(in the US, I don't venture outside it too often, unfortunately)

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Dark567 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

Indon wrote:

There is one and only one long-term winning strategy to a game with negative expected returns - and that is not to play.


Well, to be nitpicky, thats only true for random games. If you play poker in vegas, even though the expected return is negative because of the houses cut, you could be much better than your opponents and win more often. Although if this is the case I guess its debatable whether or not its a negative return game for you.
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:51 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
morriswalters wrote:This is complex so I may not get it completely right.

It's not complex. If two people win, you need to split the pot. This possibility reduces your average expected winnings.



Your buying the possibility of winning not the expectation of winning. Therefore the number of people you might have to share it with is irrelevant. The difficulty here seems to be the concept that the lottery is a fantasy game. You assume the expected return is monetary. This may be true in some cases, but not all cases. In most cases your buying a fantasy, much like a book of fantasy. Some fantasies have extra components but they are still fantasies. I treat that as a given unless you can show me star ships, dragons or any other object of fantasy. When you read one you gain nothing out of it that is non trivial. What you gain assuming the author is any good, is the amusement of placing your mind in a world where silver ships fly through space or dragons soar through the air, for a time believing that it is all possible. It doesn't mean that you ever really expect to see a dragon. When I was much younger, adults that I knew, thought about fantasy fiction and comics much like some people in this forum feel about the lottery. I still read both. :lol:

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:19 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:Well, to be nitpicky, thats only true for random games. If you play poker in vegas, even though the expected return is negative because of the houses cut, you could be much better than your opponents and win more often. Although if this is the case I guess its debatable whether or not its a negative return game for you.
It's neither debatable nor a negative return game for you. The definition is pretty clear.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
phlip
Restorer of Worlds
Posts: 7572
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:56 am UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Does the Lotto make people blind and stupid?

Postby phlip » Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:24 am UTC

Indon wrote:
morriswalters wrote:This is complex so I may not get it completely right.

It's not complex. If two people win, you need to split the pot. This possibility reduces your average expected winnings.

Yes, your expected winnings change, but the probability of winning doesn't change, which is what morris is claiming.

Expected winnings = probability of winning * payout if you win. A larger jackpot increases the second factor, whereas more people playing decreases it... but the first factor is a constant for a given lottery. Morris is saying that the first factor is constant, which is true; I think you're saying that the product varies, which is also true, but the words you've been using to say it ("your odds to win", your claim that the "1 in x chance of winning" figure changes from draw to draw) sounds more like you're saying the first factor varies, which is false.

Anyways, a thought experiment for those who think that those who play the lottery for fun are idiots (as opposed to those who play it on the expectation of winning or out of addiction... I don't think anyone is arguing against the idea that those people are in trouble): Suppose a video game came out which happened to appeal to people who play the lottery for fun. Let's say the game is sold for a price comparable to that of a lottery ticket, which is much cheaper than most games, but it's also significantly shorter than most games, to match. Would you consider someone an idiot for buying this game?
Note that I haven't said anything about the content of the game, it's not necessarily a gambling game, there just it happens to appeal to lottery-for-fun people - there happens to be a correlation between the two groups (pick 20 games - on average, one of them will have significant correlation with p=.05, and there's a hell of a lot more than 20 games out there). I also haven't said anything about whether the game is "good" according to some magical rating scale, just that certain people (the people we're considering buying it) enjoy it.

If your answer is yes: what's the difference between that and any other video game?
If your answer is no: what's the difference between that and a lottery, played for fun?

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests