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Blinded by Science (and Math)

(this article originally appeared in the Precision Shooter Newsletter.  To subscribe (it's free), send an email to deicesetter@aweber.com with subscribe as the subject)

First, let me say,  in everyday life, there is immeasurable value in having at least conceptual knowledge of science and math.   For gamblers, it’s imperative that every player have solid knowledge regarding how mathematics and their game of choice go hand and hand. (There are different philosophies as to what extent you should allow math to determine your playing strategy, but that's another article.)

With that said, science and math are frequently used and mis-used by marketers and systems sellers to dazzle and baffle the average player. 

Let’s take this out of the realm of gambling for a moment.  Advertisers love to use math and science to sell their product.  How many commercials claim that a product is “scientifically proven” to be effective?   How about the sugarless gum commercial that says, “Four out of five dentists recommend (Brand X) for their patients that chew gum?” 

What are these advertisers doing?  They’re trying to sell you a product and imply that their product is superior to others because of a “scientific” study or because it is statistically chosen more by the dental profession.  It’s not what they’re saying so much as what they’re not saying. 

Was the “scientifically proven” product tested by an independent laboratory or were the scientists on the payroll of the company selling the product?  How were the tests conducted?  Was it a double blind study?  What about the sugarless gum statistics?  How many dentists were polled?  What were the options given to the dentists?  After all, the question could have been;

As a dentist, would you recommend to your patients?

  1. Brand X sugarless gum
  2. Brand Y extra sugar bubble gum
  3. Dog Food

So, depending how the question was posed, or how the data was gathered, it seems to me it would be quite simple to get a “4 out of 5 dentists recommend…” statistic.  I think it was Mark Twain who said, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  (Alright, if you want to split hairs, the quote apparently originated with Benjamin Disraeli, but Mark Twain made it famous).  

I don’t know whether the company selling the “scientifically proven” product or the gum manufacturer who says most dentists prefer their gum is telling the truth or not.  That’s the problem.  Without further elaboration about how the studies were conducted, it would be quite simple to use pseudo-science or bend statistics in a manner which will be beneficial to these sellers.

What does this have to do with gambling?  The same tactics used to try and sell you Herbal Viagra or sugarless gum are used to sell you gaming products and services.  Ever been offered a betting system which was “scientifically proven” because it beat the Zumma book?   How about a roulette system guaranteed to win 85% of the time? 

The person trying to sell you the system that beat the book isn’t telling you that he knows the 72 hour book leans distinctly towards favoring the dark side, and therefore it’s pretty darned easy to design a system that beats the book.  The roulette system seller isn’t telling you that your total monetary losses may still outweigh your total wins. 

They’re trying to blind you with science (and math).  In the past couple of years, the sellers have gotten more sophisticated.   They’ve developed a real flare for using scientific jargon and evolving scientific theory to sell their systems.  Have you heard about the craps system based on Chaos Theory?   How about Parondo’s Paradox? 

Without getting into why these “scientific” systems work no better than others, I just want you to think about this.  Do you really think that a system seller could succeed in using Chaos Theory or Parondo’s Paradox to develop an advantage craps system when the worlds greatest mathematics and scientific minds can’t?

As far as dice influencing.  There is no scientific proof that it works.  Even for people like me, who have thousands and thousands of documented practice throws.    That doesn’t qualify as proof.   Why?  One, because the sample is still too small, and I have a vested interest in the outcome.  I’ve proven it sufficiently to myself, but that’s not scientific proof. 

The same theory holds true for detractors.  They can quote specific laws of physics which “prove” why dice influencing is impossible.  The problem is there are other theories that indicate it is possible.  To my knowledge, no credible dice influencing trials have been done.  Frankly, I hope no real scientific study is ever conducted on dice influencing as it most assuredly would cause the casinos to take immediate action.  

Even within the dice influencing community you’ll hear statements like our throwing method is superior because it’s “grounded in math and science.”   Like the Herbal Viagra and the sugarless gum advertisements, without independent verification and thousands and thousands of trials, this statement is marketing, not science.

If you’re on the fence about the efficacy of dice influencing, prove to yourself whether it works or not, for as cheaply as possible.  Don’t let my word, or anyone elses sway you one way or the other since there are no independent studies to base your decision on.

It’s never too late to brush up on your math and science skills, and you’re an adult so never hesitate to ask questions or do research.  The ever hopeful gambler is particularly prone to being blinded by science and psuedo-science because cold hard cash and riches galore are at stake.  Please don’t be influenced because someone uses scientific or mathematical jargon.  Don’t be impressed by statistics that are not independently verified.  In short, don’t be blinded by science (or math).


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