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Changing the Odds

September 22, 2009

The Bulgarian Lottery has produced the same six numbers in two consecutive draws. This somehow reminds me of Meadows Law. Sir Roy Meadows came to fame (or infamy) in the Sally Clark case where his evidence contributed to her being wrongly convicted of killing two of her babies. Dr Meadows essentially claimed that the odds against a second cot death in the same family were much greater than  the odds against a first cot death. This idea led to the dictum known as Meadows Law; “one cot death is tragic, two is suspicious and three is murder”.

Similarly in the Bulgarian lottery the amazing coincidence of the same numbers being drawn twice is to be investigated because it seems this cannot have arisen purely by chance and something must have gone wrong.

But consider – if I write down the winning numbers from one lottery draw on the entry slip for the following lottery draw will my chances of winning the jackpot be greater, lesser or the same as if I had written down any old random set of numbers?

Tricky things probabilities and predictions.

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