Activists encourage ignorance

One of the more useful skills students could ever learn is an understanding of statistics. Nanny staters, however, are working to prevent this under the guise of “concern” about gambling:

STUDENTS as young as 15 are being taught gambling in maths classes.

Several schools are teaching students in years 10-12 the probability and statistics of making a buck in sports betting, pokies, sweeps and a “day at the races”.

The program is designed to show the risk associated with gambling.

But gambling experts fear it could introduce the youngsters to betting.

In some lessons, students are asked to play card games with their teacher acting as the dealer. They also bet “play money” and tokens on a mock Melbourne Cup and AFL matches.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Dr Charles Livingstone warned the lessons could be harmful.

“Gambling is not an entirely rational exercise and anything that could encourage an unrealistic view of outcomes is potentially unhelpful,” he said. “I’m supportive of the concept but it really needs work if it is to be helpful and not potentially harmful.”

Because teaching kid maths can be “harmful”.

If you haven’t already done so, read  Peter L. Bernstein’s Against the gods: The remarkable story of risk.

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46 Responses to Activists encourage ignorance

  1. Turtle of WA

    We had two-up as a stall at a school fete when I was in high school. It was a hoot, until some little turd with a grudge actually called the police to stop a charity event at his own school. Someone like Xylophone.

  2. Turtle of WA

    Oh, and studying stats and probability at year 12 level is more likely to stop you gambling. You’re less likely to bother with Lotto, anyway.

  3. RobK

    There has been a lot written about this, years ago, in SciAm mag.
    From memory, the math and counting techniques can dispel much of the unfounded “luck” psychology.

  4. hzhousewife

    Were called Permutations and Combinations when I did Matric.
    Taught properly with real life examples not necessarily connected to gambling games, mathematical probabilities and possibilities are essential to understanding the statistical world, and extremely useful in real life. It is harmful not understanding them !

  5. Leo G

    Several schools are teaching students in years 10-12 the probability and statistics of making a buck in sports betting, pokies, sweeps and a “day at the races”.

    Discrete random variables are definitely addictive.

  6. Jim Rose

    I think the problem gamblers already know the house always wins

  7. Leo G

    I think the problem gamblers already know the house always wins

    Yes, but a good mathematician is happier when he loses his shirt later than expected.

  8. Michael Muscat

    As I like to say, modern education is child abuse.

  9. mareeS

    Our son put $1k on Trump at $6.80. I think his maths was pretty good.

    I am not a gambler, but his father is a risk-taker in business, to his complete advantage.

    My risk was sticking with his risk, so here we are, not so bad.

  10. Occupy Centrelink

    mareeS
    #2301020, posted on February 18, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    I am not a gambler, but his father is a risk-taker in business, to his complete advantage.


    Observing my family, heavy gambling can be the escape for the “risk-averse”
    The irony …

  11. Qley

    seeing how many people play lotto I say they can’t be teaching probability well in our schools

  12. RobK

    I participate in lotto as a voluntary tax.

  13. Lotto is not gambling.
    Lotto is the purchase of a short term right to dream the impossible.

  14. mareeS

    In the world of official gambling, the $2 jackpot lottery is said to be your best odds of a return on your money, so the pundits say.

    It’s probably a free ticket for being one off a prize, but there’s always the chance of a jackpot win on a free ticket hey?

    Moi, I never seem to get around to it.

  15. billie

    It’s interesting to see the anti-gambling folks being feted on our ABC, but not around Melbourne Cup time when the ABC have a wonderful time and clamour to be a part of it.

    I have heard young Jonny Faine all breathless come Melbourne Cup day with the excitement of it all.

    Amazing

  16. 2dogs

    Is there a shred of evidence behind this tut-tutting?

    I’d suggest that such lessons reduce the student’s inclination to gamble.

  17. Capnstarlight

    What about really pushing the boundary for real life skills? Let’s introduce compulsory functional literacy and numeracy competence. We’d have to start with teachers of course

  18. Sinc, I want to make guest post. How can I get it to you?

  19. Crossie

    seeing how many people play lotto I say they can’t be teaching probability well in our schools

    I find it hilarious, even though I participate in it myself, that as the lotto prize money goes up more and more people buy tickets thus lengthening the odds even further.

  20. Crossie

    I’d suggest that such lessons reduce the student’s inclination to gamble.

    Just as sex education dissuades kids from trying it.

  21. Blair

    ” anything that could encourage an unrealistic view of outcomes is potentially unhelpful,”
    How does teaching about probabilities and risk encourage an unrealistic view of outcomes? I would think the opposite is the case.

  22. stackja

    The Beer Whisperer
    #2301182, posted on February 19, 2017 at 7:59 am
    Sinc, I want to make guest post. How can I get it to you?

    Catallaxy’s current Editor-in-chief and administrator is Sinclair Davidson. Email him, if you must, at Sinclair Davidson (as one word) at gmail. Don’t forget to add the .com at the end.

    [email protected]

  23. Entropy

    billie
    #2301143, posted on February 19, 2017 at 4:18 am
    It’s interesting to see the anti-gambling folks being feted on our ABC, but not around Melbourne Cup time when the ABC have a wonderful time and clamour to be a part of it.

    I have heard young Jonny Faine all breathless come Melbourne Cup day with the excitement of it all.

    Amazing

    Well truth to tell inluvvie world there is gambling and gambling. And you can be sure that whatever it is the unwashed gamble on it can’t be as acceptable as the bird cage at Flemington.

  24. stackja

    The Beer Whisperer
    #2301205, posted on February 19, 2017 at 8:45 am
    Thanks, stackja.

    Thank you.

  25. Lem

    Activists encourage ignorance

    Ignorance is strength. Everyone knows that.

  26. Fred

    Its amazing the number of people, who haven’t studied statistics, who think that the probability of a head (or tail) of a coin toss increases depending on the previous outcome.

    That is – if you toss three heads in a row, then there next one is more likely to be a tail.

  27. JohnA

    This was effectively dealt with in the BBC comedy “Please, Sir!” in the days of B&W TV on 27″ screens!

  28. Entropy

    Because teaching kid maths can be “harmful”.

    The harm done in the name of virtue. Ind you, I reckon it has harmed quite a few maths teachers over the years.

  29. Senile Old Guy

    The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Dr Charles Livingstone warned the lessons could be harmful. “Gambling is not an entirely rational exercise and anything that could encourage an unrealistic view of outcomes is potentially unhelpful,” he said.

    The guy is a dill. His concern is the small percentage of people who become ‘addicted’ to gambling and who end up losing everything. This is not most people. And people have been teaching the probability of games in maths and statistics for a long time. The development of statistics is tied up with understanding games.

    And, contrary to what he says, gambling can be an entirely rational exercise. Back in the day, we used to play cards at uni, during the breaks, and I often won because I (a) learned the odds of different hands; and (b) counted the cards. It was an exceedingly rational exercise.

  30. H B Bear

    When you have governments actively working to impoverish their citizens to appease Gaia I see no reason why educators should not be advancing ignorance.

  31. hzhousewife

    I find it hilarious, even though I participate in it myself, that as the lotto prize money goes up more and more people buy tickets thus lengthening the odds even further.

    It’s a tough subject to get your head around indeed.
    The odds do not change at all, whether one ticket is purchased in a lottery, or 1 million. For example, if you were the only ticket purchaser, you would not be guaranteed of winning !
    Your chance of winning increases with the number of games purchased however.

    Subtle difference.

  32. MACK

    Statistical illiteracy extends well into the bureaucracy – just look at road safety which has been taken from the engineers and given to the non-numerical social workers. A couple of random accidents on some stretch of road and all of a sudden it’s a “black spot” covered in signs, lowered speed limits and revenue-raising cameras. Even basic analysis tells you it was just a chance occurrence. And they wonder why the road toll in some States like Victoria is going up. Statistical ignorance costs lives.

  33. Fred

    I beg to differ MACK.

    Speed cameras have nothing to do with black spots and accidents. Speed camera go where there is the highest number of vehicles, therefore a greater probability of someone momentarily exceeding the speed limit.

    The safest roads are freeways, yet a dotted with speed cameras. The most dangerous roads are in the country, but no speed cameras, because of a very small number of vehicles.

    In my suburb is a speed camera in a 50 zone, that is one of the most profitable in Victoria. Yet there has never been a fatality on that road in 80 years.

  34. John L

    Mark Twain:
    Do not let the schooling interfere with your education!

  35. incoherent rambler

    just look at road safety

    I did.
    If you believe the figures produced by various arms of government, “road safety measures” rather than reducing the death toll, result in the birth of human being every hour.

  36. C.L.

    STUDENTS as young as 15 are being taught gambling in maths classes.

    Are they taught Keynesianism in economics class? Same thing.
    But this story encapsulates the sick public culture of contemporary Australia.
    Our ‘leaders’ want to ban 15 year-olds from learning about gambling but teach five year-olds about sodomy. As Dr Livingstone said:

    “Gambling is not an entirely rational exercise and anything that could encourage an unrealistic view of outcomes is potentially unhelpful,” he said.

  37. Qley

    In my suburb is a speed camera in a 50 zone, that is one of the most profitable in Victoria. Yet there has never been a fatality on that road in 80 years.

    And I’m sure if you say this youll be told the speed camera is the only thing holding back all hell from breaking loose, praise be the camera

  38. Mother Lode

    All these yammering turds trying to protect us from congenital stupidity, ‘ is they’re so gosh-darned smart.

    It really boils down to: “If we don’t tell them about something they will never do it.”

    Back in the 80’s cartoons like Popeye and the earlier Tom and Jerry were denounced and taken off air because they supposedly exposed and encouraged kids to violence.

    We now find ourselves with a generation utterly unrestrained in violence totally devoid of any code or sense of fairness.

    You see, those old cartoons also showed the hero not starting the fight but only reacting after strong provocation, or defending the weak. Popeye did not kick Bluto once he was unconscious in the gutter, Jerry never glassed Tom.

    And parents also instilled the code

    You see, the primordial instinct to force was always there. It was the restraint that had to be learned. The nanny-ish busy-bodies took that away.

  39. Dr Fred Lenin

    The march through the institutions has reached its zenith they have captured the papacy hes a climateer who denies islamofascist terrorism it doesnt exist he says . Now the archbishop of caterburyclaimind Brexit and Trump supporters are “fascists” . Its good its out in the open,we can defeat it if we can see it ,when they were in the closet it was harderv to identyfy them and destroy them by defunding now thatt hardly like zhitler/stalin /castro/mao/po pot who were the real fascists ,and murderers of millions . The alliance between the establishment aparat,the global communists and islamofascists can now be destroyed without any qualms they are parasitic vermin. The pope ,canterbury soros,gore,clintons ,bengazi ,merkel jollande turnbull shorten di narale and co all vermin .

  40. Dan Phillips

    I think the problem gamblers already know the house always wins

    You may be right. I know otherwise intelligent people who play the pokies, and if asked, I’m sure they would acknowledge that it’s all rigged in favor of the house, but maybe they don’t understand that at a deep level.

    If the maths of the situation were taught at school, then maybe that would drive the point home better. They teach computer programming at schools, so the students could create a pokie machine simulators that run millions of trials per second, and they could graph the results. For every dollar you put in, the house (which includes the government) takes on average up to 10 or 15 cents. The students could bet vast sums of virtual dollars, and they could watch the inexorable downward trend of the slope of the graph. There would be spikes as they won, but the trend would always be downwards.

  41. mem

    I think the problem gamblers already know the house always wins

    Learned that at an early age and gambled on my first house at 24, my second at 30 and progressed from there. Went through some lean times but ultimately came out winning. Not bad for a girl from the bush.When it comes to casinos and betting anywhere I only do it once a year at Cup time. I like bricks and mortar as a back up.

  42. Tel

    They teach computer programming at schools, so the students could create a pokie machine simulators that run millions of trials per second, and they could graph the results.

    It’s unlikely they would accurately reproduce a real pokie machine, where the odds are adjustable by the house (and, depending on who you believe, odds may change in real time to give the impression of a “loose” machine that reels you in).

    Displaying a lot of “off by one” positions is also pretty common, to make the punter think they were close to a win… but of course, it’s just a display and means nothing.

    That said, just programming some basic emulation of a physical “wheel based” poker machine would still be an excellent exercise for the kiddies.

  43. Anonandon

    Against the Gods is an incredible book. What you think might be a dry subject is absolutely fascinating in Bernsteins hands.

  44. Jannie

    I didn’t care much about gambling either way until I had a close relative lose is entire life as the result of being addicted. Now I hate it.

    Still, people should be free to destroy themselves if that’s what they want. They will do it one way or another.

    But kids should be taught that mugs and losers support a massive industry from the profits. Its pretty sad for it to be normalised as an “investment”.

  45. King Koala

    This is a good time to point out that to become a scientist you only need to do one or two intro stat courses and the average scientist has a high school level understanding of statistics.

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