The Litter Paradox

I love this. Whoever made this was clearly trying to say that trash should be thrown in here. So they labeled it litter. But it isn’t! Litter is “Trash, such as paper, cans, and bottles, that is left lying in an open or public place.” It was litter until you threw it in here, but now it isn’t anymore. The rest of the area is for litter, this (by definition) is not. It should be labeled “Not Litter!”


I am Cursed at Superbowl Squares

Once again, I failed to win any money at SuperBowl Squares. I am a lucky man in nearly every way in life, but in this one way, I am ridiculously unlucky. Consider:

  • I have been playing for approximately twenty years.
  • Each year, I have four chances to win.
  • Each year, I buy between 5 and 25 squares. Yes, two years I bought 25 squares and still came up empty.

What are the odds?

  • 5 out of 100 squares: (.95) ^ 4 = 18.5% chance of winning
  • 10 out of 100 squares: (.90) ^ 4 = 34.3% chance of winning
  • 25 out of 100 squares: (.75) ^ 4 = 68.3% chance of winning

Most years I took between five and 10 squares. I did not keep records, but I guess the breakdown is something like this (I am being conservative):

  • 14 years of 5 squares = (1-18.5%)^14 = 5.7% chance of losing each of these years.
  • 4 years of 10 squares = (1-34.3)^4 = 18% chance of losing each of these years.
  • 2 years of 25 squares= (1-68.3)^2 = 10% chance of losing each of these years.

Put it all together. 5.7% * 18% * 10% = 0.1%, or 1 in 1,000. I am at the 99.9%th percentile for losing. Yay, I’m exceptional!