Are you skeptical about your chances of winning the lottery? Are you skeptical generally? It’s actually OK to be skeptical, and completely understandable. Things don’t usually, as the saying goes, come easy in life. Most people work hard for their money. It is perfectly normal to think that things like winning the lottery don’t happen to you. The truth is of course that everyday people just like you, do play, and win the lottery. This is why we’re here to make your chances just a little bit easier…

The original skeptic was a guy named Pyrrho. Pyrrho lived in southern Greece between 360-270 BC. He would become the inspiration for an early Greek school of Philosophy known as Pyrrhonism.

Is the outcome of any event ever really certain?

Now Pyrrho was a rather odd chap who followed an extreme form of skepticism in which he believed that no outcome was ever truly certain. By thinking in this way Pyrrho could discount the whole concept of ‘fate’. Essentially that meant that he lived his life unconcerned by the consequences of his actions or things that went on around him. He could do this because if no situation has a predetermined outcome then there would be no point in attempting to do anything to affect it.

This way of thinking gave Pyrrho an almost childlike quality which could be either endearing or dangerous depending on which point of view you took. Friends of Pyrrho considered his beliefs to be the latter. Frequently they would take to following him around so as keep him from harm. Pyrrho would often, for example, walk in front of a  chariot in the belief that it was not certain that he would be run over. On occasion, they prevented him from falling off a cliff edge for the same reason. Clearly, the laws of probability had not been discovered during Pyrrho’s time.

Pyrrho’s beliefs whilst being difficult for most people to understand did earn him the respect of his peers. Pyrrho was free from the ordinary feelings of fear or joy or happiness that most people experience. Because of this, he remained incredibly calm in the face of danger. It was said, that whilst standing on a ship during a particularly severe storm, he ignored the panic and fear amongst other passengers, believing as he did that the chances of the ship not sinking were as great as those of its succumbing to the storm.

What would have been Pyrrho’s chances of winning the lottery?

If anybody should ever tell you that your chances of winning the lottery are not very good, you should always argue to the contrary. This is because, as Pyrrho established if the outcome of an event cannot be fully determined then the reverse possibility is equally likely.

winning the lottery

Pyrrho Wins the Lottery [image courtesy of Existential Comics]

The joke, if you haven’t already got it, is that Pyrrho lives his life in the knowledge that the outcome of any event is never a certainty. However, as Pyrrho himself has won the lottery, then the outcome of that event at least, is a certainty.  This ultimately disproves everything that he believes. That, of course, makes him sad.

If you would like to learn more about Pyrrho or the Skeptic movement or epistemology (you may need to Google that) then you can purchase books about this great Greek scholar from the book depository.

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