[SEQ RERUN] Lotteries: A Waste of Hope

To­day’s post, Lot­ter­ies: A Waste of Hope was origi­nally pub­lished on April 13, 2007. A sum­mary (from the LW wiki):

Some defend lot­tery-ticket buy­ing as a ra­tio­nal pur­chase of fan­tasy — pay­ing a dol­lar for a day’s worth of pleas­ant an­ti­ci­pa­tion. But then your valuable brain is oc­cu­pied with a fan­tasy whose real prob­a­bil­ity is nearly zero, in­vest­ing emo­tional en­ergy. Without the lot­tery, peo­ple might fan­ta­size about things to ac­tu­ally do, which then might lead to mak­ing the fan­tasy a re­al­ity. To work around a bias, you must first no­tice it, an­a­lyze it, and de­cide that it is bad. Many peo­ple, such as the lot­tery ad­vo­cates above, of­ten fail to com­plete the third step.


Dis­cuss the post here (rather than in the com­ments of the origi­nal post).

This post is part of a se­ries re­run­ning Eliezer Yud­kowsky’s old posts so those in­ter­ested can (re-)read and dis­cuss them. The pre­vi­ous post was Pri­ors as Math­e­mat­i­cal Ob­jects, and you can use the se­quence_re­runs tag or rss feed to fol­low the rest of the se­ries.

Se­quence re­runs are a com­mu­nity-driven effort. You can par­ti­ci­pate by re-read­ing the se­quence post, dis­cussing it, post­ing the next day’s se­quence re­runs post, sum­ma­riz­ing forth­com­ing ar­ti­cles on the wiki, or cre­at­ing ex­er­cises. Go here for more de­tails, or to dis­cuss the Se­quence Reruns.