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Buridan’s Ass refers to a Medieval paradox concerning the logic of rationality and freewill. It demonstrates the tension between formal and informal ways of thinking and the sometimes paradoxical consequences when this tension is ignored.

…a man, being just as hungry as thirsty, and placed in between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starve to death. — Aristotle

The phrase is a parody of Jean Buridan’s philosophy of moral determinism. An Ass that is equally as hungry as it is thirsty is placed inbetween water and food, equidistant to each. Since the Ass is unable to choose which one to go to first, it will die of thirst and hunger.

Gambling

I’m kind of honored this week to have been asked to speak at this years AGM and conference for William Hill. It’s an offer I intend to accept. In a 15 minute slot I will attempt to deal with the logic and psychology of how and why people bet money. Focus will be on internet and mobile interaction rather than in store – I think they know enough about that already.

William Hill are, as you know, a major international brand. Large providers such as this need to find ways to stay ahead of the competition and customer profiling is one way to do so. Every firm has access to data about its customers but it’s a case of knowing when and how to use it, and why.

When you know who your customers are and what they are thinking, you have a better idea of what they want. And when you know what they want you know how best to pitch your promotions to them. William Hill already do a pretty good job of this in my opinion, and you can see more details of their signup offers and ongoing offers here. However even when you have successful offers, there is always room for improvement and small margins make the difference.

If you’re attending the conference I look forward to seeing you there. If not stay tuned to the blog and I hope to have some more posts for you soon.

Logic

SI ExifEach month I will be scouring the internet and nominating my Ass Of The Month award for complete logic failures. This month’s award goes to the Mediawatch section of football365.com.

This is a column that I normally enjoy and is popular with football (or soccer if you prefer) fans globally. However, it is their discussion of the saga surrounding the Roy Hodgson “Space Monkey” joke that lets down what is normally a well written and logical column, and makes them seem rather foolish.

Here’s where they have a major brain fail, when they state that “If you want to know why there isn’t a Society of White Lawyers, then you’re part of the problem”.

Firstly, the majority of people seem to agree that there is no problem for anybody to be part of. But leaving that aside, why is it any more wrong for a society of white lawyers to exist than a society of black lawyers? Both are wrong, both are completely illogical, and neither should be allowed. In fact both are (or would be) a self defeating entity.

Let’s look at this logically. Racism is discrimination against an individual on grounds of the colour of their skin, right? And what we all (including, one would assume, the society of black lawyers) want to achieve is the eradication or racism.

In a society where racism didn’t exist, there would be no such thing as a black lawyer, and no such thing as a white lawyer. There would only be a lawyer. Therefore the society of black lawyers actually wants to achieve a situation where they themselves could not possibly exist.

How’s that for a paradox?

Mediawatch, you are usually an entertaining read but on this occasion you let your moral outrage win at the expense of your usually sound logic. For that reason, the inaugural Ass of the Month award is yours.

Gambling

It’s a good question isn’t it? I can understand the social aspect of gambling in real life, whether it be the interaction with other players at a casino table, or conversation with other punters in a bookmaker. But when you gamble online, you get none of that. So what’s the attraction?

I did some research on this to try and get some other viewpoints, and the following video from Navin Bahl was able to offer some interesting perspective.

More to come on the subject of online gambling in future posts. Since it is something that will be coming from the UK to the USA in the near future, I consider it to be a topic worthy of further disucssion.

Gambling

A friend sent me the link to this short YouTube film which depicts a young man who is a (somewhat unsuccessful) gambler but learns that he’s about to become a father and has to change his ways.

My thoughts? A somewhat predictable storyline, but well made nontheless. Where the logic falls down is that not all gamblers lose. Some, such as Patrick Leitch, have become multi millionaires through betting on horse racing.

So is it gambling that is bad, are the bookmakers the enemy, or is it really a matter of individual choice, self discipline and basic hard work and talent? Should Leitch have stopped gambling at a young age? His bank account would say otherwise. That is the issue I have with those who preach that betting is evil – it’s not betting, it’s (some of) the idiots who do it. But they would be idiots whatever they did…

Anyway, more on the logic of gambling later. For now, here’s the movie.