“Never tell me the odds!” barked Han Solo. He might have said that because he’s a swashbuckling kind of guy, but it’s occurred to me that he might have said it because we don’t know the odds ourselves. Will Truman relates a sad story from South Africa:
Deaf hardware store cleaner Stanley Philander had the numbers that won the record $12 million rollover (91 million rand) lottery in South Africa on Friday.
Problem was, he bought it after the numbers were selected, which means, that if those numbers just happen to come up again in next weeks drawing, Stanley is golden. Not quite as golden as if he had won this week, however.
Let’s face it, not only is poor Stanley in the midst of a huge letdown at the moment, but that ticket of his is useless. The chances of the same numbers being drawn in back to back lotteries are astronomical.
Um, no, says Truman. “The chances are, of course, just the same as any other set of six numbers!” Similarly, if you’ve tossed a coin nineteen times and somehow managed to get nineteen heads, the chance of getting tails on the twentieth toss is still 50-50.