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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bush tries The Martingale 

There's a betting system called The Martingale that if you lose, you wager double the next time and the next time and the next time, until eventually you win and so get all your losses back.
Sounds like a plan -- after all, you're bound to win eventually, aren't you?
It is the Gambler's Fallacy to think that you're ever due to win any time, no matter how many in a row you 've lost - cards have no memory and neither does the roulette wheel. After doubling your bet a few times, you are risking a huge amount of money against a miniscule benefit -- even if you do win, all you have is your first investment back.
But the Bush administration appears bound and determined to try a Martingale in the Middle East -- either by escalating the war in Iraq, or widening it to Iran, or both.
They're playing Viva Las Vegas with real people's lives. The Martingale doesn't turn losers into winners, it only makes bigger losers.

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