Benjamin2009-09-18
Duplicate Lottery Number Question

So the winning numbers in Bulgaria\'s national lottery, randomly chosen, were the same two weeks in a row. The numbers 4, 15, 23, 24, 35, and 42 were drawn on September 6 and again on September 10. Assuming that this was an actual random occurrence, who is more foolish?

A) The 18 people who guessed the winning numbers from September 6th for September 10th, even though they knew that such a coincidence would be almost entirely without precedent.

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B) The people like me, who think that last weeks winning numbers are any less likely to win next week, given a random draw each week.

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To put it another way, should you buy a lotto ticket for next week with numbers 4, 15, 23, 24, 35, and 42? Certainly not--can you imagine a national lottery that spat out the exact same numbers three times in a row!?

And yet, to say \"certainly not\" implies that there is at least one different set of numbers that is more likely to win, and (given a fair, random draw) there clearly isn\'t one.

An actual paradox, or is my brain just fuddled with MSG from the amazing Raman soup I had for lunch?

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