NUMB3RS and the lottery

Watching NUMB3RS on TV tonight.  Tonight’s show involves stolen lottery tickets.  The show is surprisingly critical of state-sponsored lotteries.

Interesting lines:

CHARLIE:  I was right.

ALAN:  Still, some of the the money helps fund schools and support teachers.

CHARLIE:  That’s the irony.  The money funds schools that teach, among other subjects, mathematics.  But if more people understood probabilities, fewer people would play the lottery.

ALAN:  People give more if they think they’ll get something in return.

CHARLIE:  They’re buying into a game that’s designed to make players believe the odds are better than they are.  The lottery makes you pick six numbers between 1 and 49.  But it’s the same as asking people to pick a number from 1 to 14 million.

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