Friday, November 09, 2007

General ignorance of negative numbers.

It is often said that the UK National Lottery (run by Camelot) is a "tax on ignorance". As much as any gambling game with a negative expected gain, theargument is it preys on the triumph of optimism over the laws of probability. This story takes another turn as the Camelot brought out as seasonal scratch card in which to win one had to reveal a number lower than a given number. With a winter seasonal slant the numbers were temperatures in Celsius and negative.

According the the ManchesterEvening News

Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme [a suburb of Manchester], called Camelot after failing to win with several cards.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE,
said: "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than
-8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and
so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine
said I hadn't.

"I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with
some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having

I found that rather sad. I suppose it shows the disparity in the standards of education in our city that people can leave school without being able to order negative numbers, and at the same time we are getting more and mathematically stronger applicants for our maths degree courses at the University of Manchester.

It also makes me glad that the
city is not still being threatened with a super
, to further part the mathematically challenged from
their money.