You knew that, of course. Design inference. You just didn’t know how they were doing it. Mostly, they were “spotting patterns and exploiting loopholes.”
In “Lottery wins come easy, if you can spot the loopholes” (New Scientist, 19 August 2011), Ferris Jabr brings us up to date on how sharp people make their own luck.
One guy we covered in February was honest: Statistician Mohan Srivastava of Toronto, Canada, picked winning Ontario Lottery scratch cards by assuming that they were assigned by a software tool called a pseudo-random number generator. Instead of ripping off, he picked 19 of 20 proposed winners correctly and took the unscratched cards to the lottery commission. Which pretty much ended that game. And we’ve all heard about the Texas “lucky star” lotto queen too.
Jabr reports that Srivastava told Ontario lotto that some techniques do produce truly random sequences – techniques using thermal noise, for example. But
Trouble is, Srivastava says, lotteries avoid these because they want to control how many people win to ensure a profit. “Their mandate is to create an alternative source of revenue for the government.” And that means the statistically savvy can mop up the prizes. In the interests of transparency, he suggests lotteries state on tickets that the game is susceptible to plundering. More. [It gets better.]
They don’t, because many ticket holders are happy to believe that their “lucky number” systems work, while the smart cookies clean up.
So that Smart French GuyTM is still right: A lottery is a tax on imbeciles.
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