The most frequently heard lottery stories seem to be related to the misfortune of winning. There are news stories and television programs devoted to the exploration of how winning the lottery results in breakdown of the individual or family involved. We don’t however learn about the countless many who win and do not go on to ruin their lives.
So why is that? Because human failure is interesting. Even when we are feeling down, we can find someone out there who had more opportunity and more advantage than we may have had, and they blew it totally. We have FailBlog, not VictoriousBlog, and countless videos on YouTube demonstrating failed human effort.
Living in New York State in the 1990’s, we used to play the lottery quite often. Even matched 5 out of 6 numbers once for a little more than $2,000. This is in the days before multi-state lotteries with the PowerBall or MegaBall features that start at $12 million. I think the starting prize in New York was a mere $3 million.
So, my wife liked to play the same six numbers: her month and day of birth, my month and day of birth, and the month and day of our anniversary. Six numbers, easy to remember, and it was not unusual for her to ask me to stop and buy a ticket with “our numbers” on my way home.
This connects to safety, I promise.
Lottery odds are spectacularly bad, but the cost of a ticket is low. I can bet those numbers for $1. And if I won 5/6 like I did, I could make that bet for several years over, hoping to take that big win and make it bigger. I just have to buy a ticket.
Odds are long, and I played in hopes to win. But I bought the ticket, even though I am not likely to win. As they say, you have to be in it to win it.
In safety, we have nearly the same issue. I can perform unsafe acts that all have long odds in terms of resulting in injury, and I’m not likely to ever get hurt. I could hold the knife incorrectly and cut toward myself. I can use a chisel without safety goggles. And when I do that, I’m buying a ticket. I’m buying a greater chance to be hurt.
Lottery – Highly Improbable Favorable Outcome (HIFO), I have to consciously decide to buy the ticket.
Safety – Highly Improbable Disastrous Outcome (HIDO), I consciously and unconsciously buy tickets.
In Part 2 – What if I bet the wrong number?