Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe
marypcb

  • Mood:

Probability is not cumulative

I'm as guilty as the next gamer of switching dice after I've rolled a couple of 20s on the assumption they won't do it again; it's a superstition in the face of overwhelming monsters. But I find the current crop of National Lottery adverts even more irritating than usual when they claim that 'luck builds up'. Luck is blind chance is probability is not cumulative. I ranted about this until sbisson complained to the ASA, who say that "luck is both defined and widely recognised as a perceived rather than a real phenomenon" so no-one could believe 'the luck builds up' is a statement of fact. It can't be true, so it's not misleading. In fact, "one could also take the view that the luck builds up because [in a rollover week] there is normally a larger jackpot. Therefore, if you do win, you will be "luckier" as you will stand a better change of wining more money." So you can't be any luckier, except when you're lucky and then you can be luckier.

Am I the only person who finds this both wooly-minded and plain *wrong*?

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Tags: geek
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