"Look, I won $2 and it took only 12 tickets for me to do it."
The winning ticketProtanopic color
Protanopic color the 68,264,008 losers
The tickets were $1 each.  He "reinvested" the $2.
(It happened at a grocery checkout in Portland, OR)

Lotteries & Casinos

Desirable things are a lot nicer to think about than less desirable things. The winning lottery ticket is nice to dwell on. The tens of millions of non-winning tickets are so easy to forget.  "Think positive!" 

However, a person who understands how statistics works is mystified by the person who plays the lotteries and casinos with dogged persistence, feeling that the longer the play goes on, the more likely he or she is to come out ahead. 

Statistics tells a very different story: the more and more plays that are made, the more and more the net loss gets closer to the value set up statistically by the lottery or casino.  Random small wins are built in to entice suckers, but long times of play more and more assure that the player loses.  Bob Park, the U of Maryland physicist who runs the "What's New" blog suggests to the statistcially naive: "Just send us [your] dollar. The odds of winning are exactly the same, to within eight significant figures."  What's New

Much of modern science rests on a firm foundation of statistics: thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, most of psychology, sociology, and economics.  Those who use statistics have observed the predictive value of statistics.  Those who expect to win in the lottery or casino are at a terriblly lopsided disadvantage compared with the scientific literate -- they are "losers" in another Bob Park witticism (see bottom of this page.)

The shortest route to disaster is to ignore the rest of the universe once we've found what we like.
When we ignore the rest of the universe, we open the floodgates of self-deception and deception by others.  This is one of the deadliest of oversimplifications.
"We're not the measure of all things, only the discoverer of a few."
NEXT: The Many Dimensions of Color