Negative numbers foil lottery players
Here’s a fun piece from the Manchester Evening News. A winter-themed lottery scratch card has been scrapped when players were confused by negative numbers. The lottery’s gimmick involved scratching off a temperature, if the temperature was colder than a reference temperature, then the player wins. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear whether -8 degrees is colder or warmer than -6 degrees (Celsius, by the way). The article then goes on to mention GCSEs and maths ‘numeracy’ in Britain; similar to the dismal math education in the US.
If you’ll permit me to be a little smug: the initial hint that the individuals in the article aren’t “mathematics saavy” wasn’t the negative numbers, it was the fact they bothered to purchase a lottery ticket in the first place place. After all, isn’t the lottery just a tax on people who aren’t fluent with probability*?
* – To be fair, there’s an economic aspect to this. Some people may just enjoy the `thrill’ of the lottery so much that it validates the ticket cost that is essentially lost with the vastly improbable chances of winning. But I’ll leave a proper mathematical discussion to blogosphere probability experts like Isabel.
Filed under: Just for Fun | 7 Comments