It is entertainment, not investment.

I was careful to specify that your hypothetical friend enjoins you to buy lottery tickets on the grounds that it is good for you financially. I agree that if you get great enjoyment from the thought that you might win the lottery, buying lottery tickets may be worth it for you.

(But two caveats on that last point. Firstly, if you enjoy daydreaming about getting rich then you can equally daydream about unexpected legacies, spectacular success of companies in your pension/investment portfolio if you have one, eccentric billionaire arbitrarily giving you a pile of money, etc. Of course these are improbable, but so is winning much in the lottery. Secondly, "dream investment" may lead you astray by, e.g., making all the most mentally salient paths to success the terribly improbable ones involving lotteries rather than the more-probable ones involving lots of hard work, and demotivating the hard work. Whether it actually has that effect is a question for the psychologists; I don't know whether it's one that's been answered.)

I was careful to specify that your hypothetical friend enjoins you to buy lottery tickets on the grounds that it is good for you financially.

Good point; I'm retracting my comment elsethread.

Whether it actually has that effect is a question for the psychologists; I don't know whether it's one that's been answered.

I'm guessing the hard part is figuring out which way the causation goes -- maybe not having mentally salient paths to success involving lots of hard work makes people more likely to buy lottery tickets, rather than or as well as vice versa.

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

by Vaniver 1 min read2nd Mar 2015235 comments

8


Another month, another rationality quotes thread. The rules are:

  • Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself.
  • Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so here.
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.
  • Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.