Lotteries and Free Choice

September 11, 2010


My wife and I were sitting in a Starbucks and enjoying a coffee. We were also doing a scratch card, one of the many lottery games sold in Canada. This particular game is called Crossword but the game itself doesn’t matter. What the game suggested to me is a new paradox. I had been thinking about free will and determinism. In these games your destiny is already decided. You have already succeeded or failed before you start playing. And yet (knowing this) you choose to scratch various parts of the puzzle/game in a certain order. You have the illusion of freedom. You do make free choices. They just don’t matter. Even if you succeed and win at the game, it was not due to your choices. Its rather like being born into a rich family and congratulating yourself later in life that you have been a great success.

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