fbpx

What if I told you that buying a winning lottery ticket had nothing to do with mathematics and everything to do with philosophy! Confused? Welcome to the lottery paradox!

I am guessing that like me you have probably at some time sat down and pondered on the great questions of life, ‘why are we here?’ What’s life all about?’ ‘What are my chances of buying a winning lottery ticket?’ Every human being has questions, it is part of who we are to continually seek out the truth and discover new things about ourselves and the world in which we live. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer the meaning of life in this blog post, but I am able to explore your chances of buying a winning lottery ticket, from a purely philosophical point of view anyway. For the thinkers amongst you here is the philosophy of lottery.

*LOTTERY AGENT*
Claim 15% discount on US Powerball & SuperEnalotto tickets
Win your dream car
*BET ON LOTTERY*
2 MegaMillions USA lotto bets for only £3.00

The lottery paradox explained

What if I was to tell you that you could never purchase a winning lottery ticket, it’s impossible. Pretty annoying right? I mean if that is the case why would you ever buy a lottery ticket? OK, so now that you are mad at me, let me explain to you about the lottery paradox….

The ‘Lottery Paradox’ is a philosophical conundrum that has become a central topic within epistemology It was devised by Henry E. Kyburg Jr. (1928–2007) who was a Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Rochester, USA.

The paradox arises when we consider the outcome of a 1000-ticket lottery (although in truth the amount of tickets is immaterial) that has exactly one winning lottery ticket. Now it is reasonable to assume that if the lottery is run correctly (which for the sake of argument it is) there has to be a winning lottery ticket. It is similarly reasonable to assume therefore that the probability of there being a winning lottery ticket has to be greater than 0.99 (0 in probability terms being an absolute impossibility and 1 being an absolute certainty). Are you with me so far?

Why you can never buy a winning lottery ticket

OK, so on this basis then it is logical to accept the proposition that ticket 1 will not win. The reason for this is that for ticket 1 to win the lottery the probability of it doing so has to be greater than 0.99 which would mean that ticket 1 would be a statistical certainty to win the lottery.

winning lottery ticket - the lottery paradox

Of course, ticket 1 cannot be a statistical certainty to win the lottery as it must by definition have the same chance of winning as any other ticket. Agree?

Since the lottery is being run in a fair and honest manner it is logical to accept that using the same principle ticket 2 cannot be a winning lottery ticket either. If we then apply the same rules of logic to each and every ticket in the lottery we can rule out absolutely any ticket’s chances of being the winning lottery ticket. This now becomes a contradiction as we already initially established that a ticket must win the lottery with a probability of greater than 0.99 or absolute certainty.

This is the reason therefore that you cannot win the lottery. On the plus side, however, if you commit this basic philosophical principle to memory you will make £20 quid off your mates down the pub after a couple of lagers.

Those of you with an interest in philosophy or mathematics may wish to check out The Logical Foundations of Statistical Inference by Henry E. Kyburg Jr available at the Book Depository.

*LOTTERY AGENT*
Claim 15% discount on US Powerball & SuperEnalotto tickets
T&Cs Apply

First-time depositors only. Offer applies to standard lotto tickets purchased for US Powerball and Italy's Super Enalotto only. Discount does not apply to lotto syndicates and bundles. 18+. Standard terms & conditions apply.

Win your dream car
*BET ON LOTTERY*
2 MegaMillions USA lotto bets for only £3.00
T&Cs Apply
NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY: This promotion is available to new registered players only. The offer must be redeemed by clicking on the link provided. Limited to one per person and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotion. Must be 18+ years to play. Registration required. begambleaware.org. Full terms & conditions apply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ken Recommends
Join today and get up to 100 free spins at Boylesports
Claim 100 free spins plus up to £200 bonus cash at MrPlay casino
Stake £10 at Betfred and claim 200 Free Spins
Claim 100% welcome bonus up to £100 plus 10% cashback
Claim 25 FREE Spins