[ExI] never say never

John Clark jonkc at bellsouth.net
Wed Jun 30 16:31:20 UTC 2010

On Jun 30, 2010, at 4:09 AM, Damien Broderick wrote:

>  >here's an interesting fact:
> <http://www.flalottery.com/inet/games-cash3Main.do>
> <...the Lottery has established a $10 million liability limit for Cash 3 for any particular three-digit number for each drawing. Should any three digit combination (for example 777) be purchased often enough in a single drawing that would result in the liability limit being exceeded, the Lottery will "cut off" further sales of that specific number combination. In addition, no Front Pair or Back Pair that involves the first two or last two digits, respectively, of the three-digit number will be allowed for that drawing.>

What's interesting about that? As I said before it's not a parimutuel so for legal reasons you can't make a bet you can't theoretically cover, in fact I did something similar on this very list. Three years ago I made a bet, I said that if an article favorable to cold fusion is published in the next year in Science or Nature or Physical Review Letters I will pay you one thousand dollars and if such an article does not appear you will pay me one hundred dollars. A few years before that I made the same bet regarding psi. In both cases I considered upping the reward to $10,000 but I wasn't sure how many people would take me up on my offer and it would be immoral to make a bet I couldn't cover. I need not have worried, not one person took my bet and if they had I would have been $100 richer.  

>  >as I predicted, 333 is highly favored--and so are other triples:

It's not surprising that people have illogical reasons for favoring one number over another. It would be very surprising indeed if one of those favorite numbers ended up winning more often than probability says it should. If that had happened it would be legitimate evidence for the existence of psi, but that's not what we see.

> >The last time 777 hit, Dec. 3, 2006, there were 18,542 people with winning tickets

And in the many hundreds of drawings since then those 18,542 people lost money when betting their favorite number, even when they used psi to help them out. 

> >With that sort of extreme volatility, it might be difficult to calculate just how many winners to expect, 

With 730 drawings a year, each with a FAR larger sample size than any psi researcher could hope to see, and at least 25 years worth of data, I don't think it would be difficult at all to figure out how many winners you'd expect to see.

> >even with the mandatory cut-off that effectively prevents the data from telling us how many people really wanted to select certain combinations.

Not much of a problem as I very much doubt the mandatory cut-off has ever actually been used in practice.

   John K Clark

> A quick search has not found a comprehensive formal statistical study of the results. But you, John, must of course have this information at your fingertips, since you are so certain what it contains.
> Damien Broderick
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