Can I change your deceptive gambling behavior if I teach you the math?

"Hold on. I've got to figure out the odds for this next hand..."

Part of my motivation for Deceptology was to teach about deception. And maybe deep inside I thought that if people could be, if not less deceptive, at least more able to understand deception in their lives, they might be able to ferret it out where it might be doing them harm.

And then I'm yanked back to reality.

In a Canadian study, students in a university statistics class were taught about the statistics of gambling. They learned about gambling fallacies and probability. They looked at superstitions, how random events are independent of each other, how we have the illusion of control of things we don't really have control of, and how we think we're luckier than others.

Six months later, the students still resisted gambling fallacies and could figure out the real odds. Success! But the researchers were surprised that the students still gambled just as much as they did before.

The last sentence of the article's abstract reads:
"The implication of this research is that enhanced mathematical knowledge on its own may be insufficient to change gambling behavior."
Albert Einstein predicted this. He was the one who said:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
In this case, imagining winning was more important than knowing you probably won't win.

- "Does learning about the mathematics of gambling change gambling behavior?" Psychol Addict Behav. National Institutes of Health, PubMed.gov>>
- "Does learning about the mathematics of gambling change gambling behavior?" Complete paper Google Docs>>

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