Statistical Ignorance Tax

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    Just got back from Q-FK, where I saw people lined up to pay their Statistical Ignorance Tax. The Statistical Ignorance Tax is a tax levied on people who don’t understand statistics.

    Payment is $1.00 per person and is completely voluntary, with no identification required. If you wish to pay the tax, all you need do is implicitly acknowledge that you don’t understand statistics, step up to the counter, and pay your dollar. You will then be handed a printed receipt for payment. If you’d like, you can specify a series of numbers to be imprinted upon the receipt.

    There is an incentive for paying the tax. When the tax payment cycle is over, one or more receipts MIGHT be selected based on a combination of randomly selected numbers. The holders of the chosen receipts will receive an obscene amount of cash, to be paid out of Statistical Ignorance Tax revenues.

    The amount of cash received by the randomly chosen taxpayers will not be as advertised in the Statistical Ignorance Tax Payment marketing campaign, and this will naturally come as a surprise to the recipients, since, by definition, people who don’t understand statistics don’t understand annuities either.

    Or marketing for that matter.




    There’s nothing to hate about a voluntary tax!



    I worked at 7-eleven in a different state for a couple years. We sold a ton of lotto tickets. This was before the days of self-service machines. The clerk would have to key in the numbers the customer wanted to purchase if the customer didn’t fill out a little slip. You see the same people buying lotto tickets day after day. I was pretty bored, so I ran my own social experiments a few times.

    One game we had (again, this is not WA state) was a daily “pick 3” drawing. Customer picks three numbers, say 8, 15, and 19. If all three are drawn you’d win a few hundred bucks or whatever. Gamblers are so finicky though. Just to see what would happen, I would sometimes ring up different numbers on purpose. For example, I’d type in 8, 16, and 19. I’d then print the slip and ask “hold on a second, what numbers did you want?” Customer would respond “I wanted 8, 15, and 19.” I’d say “Oh my mistake, I keyed in the numbers wrong. Let me cancel this ticket and get you the numbers you want.” Every time I made this “mistake” the customer would always blurt out “Hold on! Hold on! Let me buy the numbers you input incorrectly, and also let me buy the numbers I originally wanted.” Gamblers are creatures of superstition. In their mind, the numbers I “accidentally” printed became necessary for them to have. It was fun to watch.

    I only did this a few times because I was bored and liked conducting experiments. Please don’t hate me.



    Okay, I get it now.

    Just had a little brain fart after originally reading it.




    It’s getting close to being fair. They (the NBC TV news spot) say the 550M jackpot pays a 360M lumpsum, of which you’d keep 270M after taxes. So your pot odds are 135M:1 because tickets cost $2.

    Also they say the odds on winning are 176M:1, which still leaves a modest ignorance tax. The real kicker is multiple winners that have to split the prize – I don’t have any way to estimate that but it would bring your payoff odds way down.

    I have no fear in giving away this information. Those who need it won’t understand or act on it, just as with skeeter’s customers.



    And while I stand by my statement as having accurately quoted the news spot, look at what they said about taxes. Only a 25% tax on the big prize? Nahhh…it’ll be 40%. Shows what *they* know.



    Whenever I see people buying lottery tickets I want to go up to them – especially the poor ones, the ones who look live they’ve skipped a meal or two – shake their hands and say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

    Thank you for paying my taxes for me!”



    Lottery-mania. Ha.

    What a wet dream for curmudgeons.

    I really have to laff at these guys who go, Yeah, when the jackpot was only a million, I wasn’t interested. It wasn’t WORTH it. But now that it’s a HUNDRED million, they’re startin’ to get my attention. Think I’ll go down there and get me a ticket.


    As if you’d know what do with a HUNDRED million any more than you’d know what to do with ONE.

    Look, chances are you’ve gotten to this point in your life by NOT being careful with your money, and the fact that you buy lottery tickets is proof of that. So you think that having a hundred million bucks is going to help you suddenly see the light? That it’s going to encourage you to use your money more wisely?

    Oh . . . it is to laff!


    That’s like giving a jug of ‘corn’ to a hillbilly.


    –We know what’s been keeping YOU down, don’t we, Jethro?

    Not enough likker.




    i take it your ticket was not a winner this time?



    Ha ha. I couldn’t win the Lottery to save my soul. And neither could 99.9999999% of everyone else. That’s the beauty of the system, I guess.

    As a curmudgeon I have a lot of fun with lottery advertising, too. Remember the “Lucky Dog” campaign?

    “Some lucky dog’s gonna win!” Remember that?

    Their mascot was a Husky.

    Of course they wanted you to think that ALL dogs are lucky, and that all you had to do was ‘go fetch’ a ticket in order to win.

    But some dogs just never learn, do they? Of course not. That’s what the Lottery pushers are counting on.

    You know, if there were any truth in advertising they would have gone with something like this instead:


    Here’s one Lucky Dog’s view of the world:


    And here’s yours:

    Watch out where the Huskies go. 



    statistics a lovely subject!



    DBP…if you don’t want to buy lottery tickets, then don’t…your choice…but stop judging others. What the hell..never have a dream in your life? Look inward , my friend, and judge your perfect self first, before you tackle anyone else…it’s not your job ! Curmudgeon or not…what? are you trying to replace KMan? If you miss him, I’m sure one of us an put you in contact…



    Jan has a point. There’s the old rule that you should never bet what you can’t afford to lose. But if you’re not going to miss a couple bucks, the statistics can be looked at differently:

    p(change my life) = 0 if I lose $2

    p(change my life) > 0 if I win millions

    Having said that, my lifetime losses on the lottery are perhaps $20. Most weeks I break even.



    Oh JKB! Thank you for giving this old curmudgeon’s heart a taser jolt of joy. (I would reward you with beer money, except you’d probably waste it.)

    >>My lifetime losses on the lottery are perhaps $20. Most weeks I break even.

    –Oh. So most weeks you break even, do you? Why you Lucky Dog!

    If you’d only been playing for two or three weeks, I might credit this story, though the odds would still be against it being true. But I bet you’ve been playing for much longer than that, haven’t you? Mm-hmmmm?

    See, your chance of breaking even overall goes down with each successive play. So if you’ve been playing every week for a year or more, and you’re still breaking even, you may consider yourself freakishly lucky. And if you’ve been playing for five years or more, and are STILL breaking even, you may consider yourself favored of the gods.

    In that case, my advice to you would be: Keep playing, laddie!

    Actually, it is much more likely that you have fallen prey to something known as the “gambler’s fallacy.” It’s not unique to gamblers by any means; however, it is most easily explained in relation to them.

    Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re at the Muckleshoot Casino, and you’ve been feeding quarters into a slot machine for a while without a win. Since you’re losing only one quarter at a time, it’s not so painful; you don’t feel particularly unlucky and your money’s not being exhausted too rapidly.

    Then comes a jackpot – wow! – and a cascade of shiny new quarters comes jangling into the tray. Whoopee!

    Suddenly, you’re feeling lucky. And after three or four more jackpots in rapid succession, you’re really pumped.

    After an hour or so, you collect your “winnings” and head on home. True, you’re fifty bucks lighter than when you came in. But on the other hand, you had fun. And when your wife asks you how it went, you smile and go: “Not bad at all! I got five jackpots.”




    Note to Jan:

    Darling, why do you come onto my threads and tell me to shut up?

    Do I do that to you?

    Oh, I do?

    (Never mind.)



    I would explain, but why reveal my secret strategy? Lots and lots of ticketbuyers clearly haven’t figured it out. Actually I expected you to understand.

    I break even on the lottery and I win at roulette, using very simple methods.



    DBP, my dear…please show me any quotes that I have made telling you to “shut up”. I don’t believe I’ve ever done that to you. I simply’s not your place to judge others, worry about yourself first :)


    I understand statistics completely. I look at it as purchasing a very small amount of plausibility for idle speculation. It costs less than a cup of coffee and allows me to realistically consider which color Fiat 500 I’d prefer . To quote Jim Carey in “Dumb and Dumber”,

    “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”



    Jan, I see your point, but once I get started worrying about other people, it’s hard to stop, you know?

    Are you sure that’s what you want me to do?

    Careful now . . .



    oldgrayboarder, I don’t care if already well-off people want to fantasize about being even weller off, but the fact is that a lot of poor folks spend the milk money on the Lottery and other forms of gambling. That’s bad enough, but when you consider that the government is actually PUSHING this, it becomes positively sickening.



    DBP..we are all at times “worried” about our fellow man…old, sick, infirm, undernourished, homeless, etc. I don’t judge them…I’m just concerned…another word for “worry”, I suppose. You were judging, condemning,casting disparaging remarks about people for how they want to spend a buck (in your opinion, not wisely)…you weren’t “worrying”..just my humble opinion.

    I was saying, when I referred you to worry about yourself first, that perhaps you need to make sure your house is clean from all unwise things before you judge others. I’m not worried about’re an adult who can make choices, just like those in line at the lottery desk. Is every decision you make “wise”? If not…look inward first….capiche?

    and how do you know whether they’re spending the “milk money” or not…judging a book by it’s cover , I see…what one wears or looks like has no bearing on how much wealth they may or may not have…



    even if it’s their milk money

    it’s still their choice



    You might have noticed this already, but I am not one of these bleed-my-heart-and-buy-’em-another-round type of liberals. Nope. I gives it to people straight.

    Rich people.

    Poor people.

    And every kind of people in between.

    If I see someone in trouble, I’ll try to help ’em out. That means helping ’em find a warm meal and a decent place to stay. It also means giving them some solid advice.

    If they don’t wanna hear the advice, too bad. They’re gonna hear it anyway.

    To not tell a man the truth about his errors is to help him make them again. And I’m not into that, though I see plenty of people around me who are.

    See my recent post about “charity.”

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