In the latest twist to the controversy surrounding television quiz shows that use
premium-rate phone calls, ITV Play has been permanently retired, (and to have even less sympathy for this channel - if that's possible - take a look at some launch party photos).
I feel sympathetic towards the many people who have wasted their money participating in such shows, because they're being conned. I'm not talking about the examples of outright fraud, but connec by innacurate information about basic probability. The expected gain from such a quiz is the prize multiplied by the probability that you win. The shows highlight and underline the prize, but are silent regarding the probability. It encourages us to think only about what would happen if we win, rather than what the likely outcome is.
But notice the hypocrasy of those who lament crass television, yet participate in exactly the same charade when it comes to democracy. People who phone into television quizzes are simply doing what politicians and the establishment are telling them to do: Vote or Die!
The reason I'm indifferent about quiz shows, and indifferent about voting, is because I know my vote/call is highly unlikely to make a difference. As Bryan Caplan shows, the probabilty of deciciveness in an election is:
For example, evidently my local MP is a Tory called James Clappison. Last election he got 22,665 votes; Kelly Tabb (Labour) got 11,572; Jonathan Davies (Lib Dem) got 7,817; and Jim Dry (Socialist Labour) got 518 (from BBC). Based on these figures, the probability that eveyone else votes "for" the incumbant is 53.2%, and the total votes cast were 42,572. With p=0.532 and n=42,525...
the probability of deciciveness = 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000004318
It's ironic how politicians claim to "protect" citizens against such behaviour, and are responsible for propogating the cognitive error themselves. In fact, they're no different at all to the "Good Summa" presenters who tempt us into voting purely for their own marginal gains. Ignore the lot of them!