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Does Violating Basic Strategy Cause Global Warming?2 September 2003
Mainly malarkey. But not entirely. Superstition, in casinos and the real world, is a presumed link between proximate incidents when cause-and-effect is unproved. So, circumstances may exist in which posited interactions exist but are not yet discovered or understood, or when correlations are probabilistic but data are insufficient to conclude that they're statistically significant. History is replete with laws of science that started this way.
Gambling smart alecs mock machine mavens who think slots run in predetermined cycles and seek series of hits suggesting the onset of a hot phase. Or, they deride dice devotees who call Place bets "off" if the hexahedrons go off the table, believing this somehow signals increased odds of a seven on the next toss. They likewise belittle blackjack buffs who breach Basic Strategy, convinced that a Bezonian who flouts the "book" changes the sequence of the cards and ruins the table for everyone else. And, the ridicule is warranted in these cases because causality is known to be absent.
Yet, many of the same experts turn out to harbor superstitions of their own. They presume causal relationships based on ad hoc experience rather than repeatable experimental proof, deduction from "first principles," or analytical substantiation at a high degree of confidence. Some try to rationalize the underlying phenomena as a way of validating their theories. But most such explanations admit of elements that are not well understood. Not yet, anyway. Some may ultimately be shown valid, others will not.
One example would involve setting the dice and executing a controlled
throw at craps. Some gaming gurus claim this is nonsense. Most casino
bigwigs dismiss it as well, and could take countermeasures if they
considered it a threat. Yet more than a few esteemed authorities are
convinced that orienting the dice in certain ways before rolling them,
throwing so they tumble end over end as if rotating on an axle rather
than twisting, and hitting the "right" spots on the table or wall to
minimize spurious motions can reduce the likelihood of the faces set on
the ends finishing on top. You can conceptualize or work out how the
probabilities would change, for instance, if both dice had the one and
six on the ends and only two through five could finish on top, each with
a probability of one out of four.
And, it's more than just in the casino. Numerous respected scientists believe that the carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels creates a "greenhouse" syndrome and leads to global warming. About as many assert that the small average temperature rises noted during the past few decades could have occurred by chance, given the variance in the data, or could result from natural but presently obscure influences such as those that gave rise to the ice age and the subsequent warming when the glaciers receded. Either way, lacking proof, it's superstition. Or, as the old wives' Wordsworth, Sumner A Ingmark, rhymingly remarked:
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