margaret at onr.com
Sun Dec 19 10:19:18 EST 2004
'Relax, Gili, I understood where you were coming from and I expect
Dorian and most people on this list did.
That kind of thing was a hot button for me for years too, coming from a
different background - as a math major, and coming from three
generations of semi-pro gamblers on my mother's side of the family, it
used to drive me CRAZY when people I knew (especially people I knew who
really couldn't afford it) bought lottery tickets. I would argue myself
blue in the face trying to tell them that if you're going to gamble, for
Pete's sake don't choose a game where you have no control and the house
has the biggest edge in recorded history.
Finally I got it. They don't buy lottery tickets because they want to
gamble. They buy lottery tickets because they want the fantasy of
gambling without the bother of turning their brains on.
Same thing goes for playing games with birthdays. No matter how many
times you tell people the statistics of birthday-matching and how fast
the probability increases the bigger the group gets, there will always
be someone who wants to exclaim about the Amazing Coincidence.
>human tendency to look for patterns in stimuli is a crucial tendency and
>part of what makes us human - it is often very useful indeed. But our
>instincts can lead us to see patterns where it can be proven that there are
>none. Sometimes we see the patterns so strongly that no amount of reasoning
>will convince us that the patterns aren't there: just as optical illusions
>can be so strong, that they trick our eyes even when we know what's actually
And sometimes it's fun to play with the perceived patterns, even if you
know they aren't real. Hey....do you really expect people who are
serious fans of *fantasy* to require that something be real before they
play with it? <g>
We just don't feel like acting logical all the time. Do I think
astrology is crap? Yes. Do I know my "sign"? Sigh......yes.
Mathematicians are like Frenchmen; whatever you say to them they translate into their own language and forthwith it is something entirely different.
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