Posted by: Prospector PJ26 JUN 2009
Thinking of buying a lottery tick for the big draw on Saturday? You are in with a sporting chance of winning a tenner — one in 56.7 — but your chances of scooping the jackpot are pretty poor, at around one in 14 million.
You are much less likely to win the Lotto than to be struck by lightning, with odds of one in three million. Some people are just unlucky however. American park ranger Roy Sullivan entered the Guinness Book of Records after being struck seven times and surviving. Also unlucky in love, Mr Sullivan shot himself dead at the age of 71 over an unrequited love.
Your chances of reaching the age of 100 are much greater than either a lottery win or a lightning strike. Twelve years ago bookmakers William Hill would have given you 250-1 on such a proposition, but two years ago only those reaching 110 could get those odds. Tips from Alec Holden, who scooped £250,000 for just such a bet, include: “Always start the day with a bowl of porridge and remember to keep breathing. Take lots of holidays and don’t work too hard.”
It is people’s misunderstanding of the nature of risk that accounts for their often bizarre approach to health. As American comedian George Carlin noted: “Think how stupid the average person is; now realise half of them are dumber than that”.
And perhaps the most irrational group of people are parents. The number of child murders has barely changed in 20 years, with most killed at the hands of their parents. So why is it that in 1971 80 per cent of seven- and eight-year-olds walked to school alone, yet today less than 10 per cent do?
So, book that plane ticket now. The chances of being killed in a crash are a minuscule one in 11 million. And place a bet on Andy Murray to win Wimbledon. At 5-2 it is the best odds on a Brit for 73 years.