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Friday, February 06, 2009

Coffee break: FAQ 2: Note to "real scientists" - stay OUT of police work

Over at Uncommon Descent, Barry Arrington notes that FAQ2 addresses the claim that No Real Scientists Take Intelligent Design Seriously

Well, there is a big scandal going on right now in my home province of Ontario, involving accusatins of cheating in lotteries. As explained by the inimitable Toronto Star,
Previous estimates suggested that lottery vendors and their employees and families have taken home $106 million in prizes over the past 13 years. The new audit says the actual figure is $198 million, a figure that Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin characterized yesterday as "astronomical." In fact, it is almost certainly an underestimate of what insiders have been pocketing.

Winners' names are only recorded for larger prizes – about one-third of the $14 billion in total winnings distributed since 1995. The rest of Ontario's lottery jackpot is distributed directly by stores in the form of small cash prizes.

It is very likely, then, that these prizes are even more vulnerable to cheating.
"Astronomical is news speak for "These numbers are way too high to be the result of chance (as in "game of chance, or lots = lottery") and therefore must be due to design."

The widespread accusation - based on a previous case in which police laid charges- is as follows:
CBC discovered many retailers defrauding their customers by claiming their lottery tickets were worthless, when in fact were worth in some cases millions of dollars, which retailers promptly cashed.

A Statistican calculated that the odds of this many retailers winning a big lottery were like a trillion to one, far worse than their clients chances of winning at 14 million to one.
A class action lawsuit has been launched, and there is also a proposal to forbid ticket vendors, their employees, and families to participate in the lottery.

Of course that proposal won't work. These days it would produce nothing but a huge raft of lawsuits and human rights commission hearings over what constitutes "family."

My advice would be ... start a savings account instead. Yes, the bank might go under, but the odds of that happening are much lower than of you losing the lottery, and probably lower than you being cheated out of a win as well.

And if you are a scientist who really, honestly believes that randomness produces intelligence ... put your financial affairs in the hands of a reliable trustee. And don't ever think of police work.

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