Why do I want to debunk the lottery? Because I’m tempted, and I need strong protection

I already can obviously see that, for the small lotteries, it’s not worthwhile to try to win $500 or something, because, well, it’s obvious for anyone who can do even the slightest bit of arithmetic – you lose more often than you win, and have a net expense. I did bookkeeping.

However, something changes in my emotional perception of this risk (inevitable net loss) whenever the prize you win is much bigger. If you have a chance of winning like $40 million dollars, it seems worthwhile to have a net loss of $2 if you only do it, say, once a week. It’s a hopeless duty that you perform without expecting to receive anything, kind of like paying taxes. Your lottery tax is only a small loss compared to the amount you would win.

I need to protect myself against this idea by proving that the lottery is not merely IMPROBABLE, it is actually IMPOSSIBLE. There is a world of difference between improbable and impossible. It’s like the limit of a function as x approaches zero, or else, just y=0. Or something. Those are very different. My emotional reaction to ‘improbable’ is different from my emotional reaction to ‘impossible.’ I won’t even do it at all if it’s impossible but if it’s unlikely, I might try.

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