Monday, June 22, 2009


Welcome! Welcome!

Today I am talking about Stochasticity, or randomness. I am specifically talking about the lottery and the fact that I have become like many many other Americans and have begun the process of playing the lottery. The reasoning is this:

The odds of the Missouri lottery picking my particular set of numbers is approximately 7,983,845:1. However, the odds of my winning the lottery is about 50%.

Read that again and think for a second, I will wait.

. . .

Ok, here is the logic. Someone is going to win the lottery. It may be me, it may not be me. There are 7,983,845 chances that it could be me. There are actually only two outcomes from my perspective: I either win or I lose. There is not a single reason for me to not buy a ticket and play the lottery. There are approximately 104 drawings every year. I could spend $104 per year for a chance that I might win the lottery. There are certain things that make this a much better idea than it seems.

For instance, the odds that I might become President are about 10,000,000:1. Which means that I have a better chance of winning the lottery in Missouri than I do of actually becoming president. Even crazier the odds are about the same that I will win an academy award as they are as my bowling a 300 game. (Thanks to Natalie Josef's little article from

At any rate, her article says the exact opposite of what I am saying. However, I think we agree more than she would think. (Not that she will ever read this anyway). The idea that we should ignore TV is quite true. However, I digress.

The lottery is a poor man's buyable hope. The idea that every man or woman can win uncounted millions and have a different life is quite intriguing. I personally do not think that I will win, but I quit smoking 2 years ago and I spent a lot more on that than I ever will on the lottery.

Stochasticity is a fascinating idea. It is an idea of comfort because it removes the responsibility of our actions and places "fate" in the hands of the "gods".

Sleep well.

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