Once seen as a harmless diversion, hi-tech slot machines now bring in more money than casinos – and their players become addicted three times faster than other gamblers.

Here’s how the math works:

In Australia pokie machines must return between

85%

and

90%

of money gambled.

But here is the catch. If you start out with $300 that means, surely, you’ll go home with$255 in your pocket less some for the big payouts.

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

According to ex-gambler Tom Cummings you’ll probably go home with

NOTHING!

In his article, Poker machine maths, (ABC, The Drum, 27 MAY 2011) it is not unusual for someone to start with $300 but put $3,000 into the machine over 4 – 5 hours.

Here’s the sting. According to the poker machine, $3,000 was gambled, and $300 was kept (by the slot machine). That means that the machine paid out $2,700… which is the 90 per cent return.

That’s one pension cheque gone for the week.

Warren Buffett has called

gambling in general a

“tax on stupidity”

or a way of fleecing those who don’t do the maths.

The study showed that “Men whose red meat intake put them in the top 20 per cent consumption band were 22 per cent more likely to die of cancer in the 10 years of the study, compared to men whose intake was in the lowest 20 per cent. For women, there was a 20 per cent increase in risk.”

The problem is big meat eaters tend also to be big drinkers, smokers, obese and the rest. This study has tried to separate out meat eating from other unhealthy lifestyle choices using the Cox Regression. Mathematical wizardry has produced these numbers but they don’t mean much.

If the study used a control group of drinking, smoking, obese vegans then compaing mortality rates over 10 years would be would be interesting. But where do you find half a million of them????????

Meanwhile any survey or study of a self-selecting group (eg. newspaper polls among readers) or a pre-existing group (eg. a church group, college students, yacht club, rock ‘n roll club) produces biased and therefore meaningless results.

eg. 9 out of 10 dentists who are paid to say they recommend Oral B toothbrushes is useless information, a study of paid jerks, really.

Look for a RTC or Randomised Controlled Trial.

Any study that begins a ‘trial of college students found’ (eg. psychology trials) is a BIASED SAMPLE. Look at the lifestyle of college students. How many people in the general population wear beer hats to parties? If you asked 10 beer hat wearing college students their opinion on Oral B toothbrushes they might not even recall the purpose of a toothbrush!

The School Summer Holidays are about to end. The academic year kicks off in Australia at the end of January. Mathspig is in Melbourne enjoying the Summer weather in a city known for having 4 seasons in one day. Just to blast your maths’ neurons into action here are some interesting statistics about Melbourne’s weather.

These are for Monday 18th January:

Now we will have a little play with averages.

Melbourne’s long term Maximum Average for January is 26C. But if you are traveling to Melbourne in January do not pack bags for the average temp bring clothes for all seasons including some winter woollies!