High school teacher Joe Colacioppo is bright enough to calculate the odds that his lone Mega Millions ticket today will turn him into a $540-million-dollar man.
In fact, he took time to do the math: “There’s a greater chance of me winning the Nobel Peace Prize — or of monkeys flying out of my butt, to quote ‘Wayne’s World.’ ”
So why did the social studies instructor at Smoky Hill High in Aurora, Colo. slap a dollar down on a lottery ticket for the first time in years, especially when the mathematical probability of his winning is 1-in-175 million?
“I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. To say I’m a skeptic, that’s an understatement. But it’s fun to have a horse in the race,” Colacioppo added. “Unless it’s a record (jackpot), I never do it. I think most people who regularly don’t play the lottery but who are playing this time just think: Oh, it’s a buck and everybody’s in it, and isn’t it exciting?”
This has been the talk of the office around here… My favorite saying being “The lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math”. But, I am succumbing to this peer pressure. As this article notes, many consumers just can’t help themselves. We are pressured by the feeling that we don’t want to regret not taking the opportunity. It’s annoying me.
Perhaps the value of buying a ticket is the pleasant daydreaming you do while imaging how to spend all that money.
We don’t naturally calculate probabilities, said June Foley, professor of behavioral and social sciences at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
“We calculate the odds through a very strange mechanism called the availability heuristic,” she said. “You guess the likelihood that something is going to happen based on how easy it is to think of an example of that thing happening.”
In other words, the quicker you’re able picture an event occurring, the more likely you are to believe it can. This is why — despite the low odds on aircraft crashes and high number of vehicle accidents — some people just refuse to fly and only drive from place to place.
Yep, right now, I’m imagining quitting my job and doing Doubtful News full time. It’s a dream, I know.