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False information from the Media

I was watching Shepard Smith Reporting and I was shocked that they could not get a simple story correct. Perhaps it is a failure in our Educational system. This is not unique to this one person, show or network, but is a simple example of what the problem is.

He was talking about the Powerball lottery since it is at a record amount. He said that the odds are around 1 in 293 million (the rounding is mine) and that you could buy ALL numbers in order to guarantee a win, which would cost around $586 million.

So far, so good, but then he went on to say that buying more lottery tickets would NOT increase your odds of winning. That is where he entered the Stupid Zone.

The odds of winning are around N in 293 million, where N is the number of unique set of numbers that you have a lottery ticket for. If you buy 1 ticket, then the odds of winning are in 1 in 293, as was stated. If N is one of every possible number, then the odds of winning are around 293 million in 293 million, which is 1 in 1, or as he said the odds of winning are guaranteed.

So why does he not understand that as you go from 1 to 293 million that the odds increase? Yes, the best increase in the odds of winning is buy one ticket. Each additional ticket increases your odds by 0.000000003 (1/293 million). That still means that if you buy 100 unique tickets, your odds of winning have slightly increased. If you bought half of all the possible tickets, then you have a 50% chance of winning, pretty simple, right?

So if they can't get simple math stories correct, why should we believe them on anything else?



Index for Insanity, Inc.

Written: 12-Jan-2016

Updated: 12-Jan-2016

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