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notsonewuser comments on Lotteries: A Waste of Hope - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 13 April 2007 05:36AM

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Comment author: mtraven 13 April 2007 04:46:40PM -2 points [-]

There is a big difference between zero chance of becoming wealthy, and epsilon. Buying a ticket allows your dream of riches to bridge that gap.

I'm not a fan of lotteries, but I don't understand how you can apply the rubric "bias" to their value, since nobody can measure the value of entertainment or distant hope for another. Just measuring the expected cash value is ridiculously reductive.

BTW, for the ultimate in bad reasoning about probabilities, see here.

Comment author: notsonewuser 08 August 2013 07:40:49PM 2 points [-]

I don't understand how you can apply the rubric "bias" to their value.

As I see it, Eliezer is not applying the term "bias" to the value of lotteries, rather, to people's own evaluations of how likely they are to win. These evaluations are scope insensitive, as is the first sentence of your comment, as Eliezer points out in the follow-up post.

It is a separate question whether it is good that people are scope insensitive, or that people play the lottery. Eliezer says no:

If not for the lottery, maybe they would fantasize about going to technical school, or opening their own business, or getting a promotion at work—things they might be able to actually do, hopes that would make them want to become stronger.