Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions


My prior probability for the existence of a secret and powerful crackpot group willing to sabotage the LHC to prevent it from "destroying the world" is larger than my prior probabilty for the LHC-actually-destroying-the-world scenarios being true, so after many mechanical failures I would rather believe the first hypothesis than the second one.

"Naturally, those so-called "lotteries" were a failure. They had no moral force whatsoever; they appealed not to all a man's faculties, but only to his hopefulness. Public indifference soon meant that the merchants who had founded these venal lotteries began to lose money. Someone tried something new: including among the list of lucky numbers a few unlucky draws. This innovation meant that those who bought those numbered rectangles now had a twofold chance: they might win a sum of money or they might be required to pay a fine--sometimes a considerable one. As one might expect, that small risk (for every thirty "good" numbers there was one ill-omened one) piqued the public's interest. Babylonians flocked to buy tickets."

-Jorge Luis Borges, The Lottery in Babylon.

Long ago I was discussing this passage with a friend trained in economics (I am not). He insisted that is was silly and that people would never prefer deliberately the option with added penalties for losing. Glad to see he was wrong!