A recent newspaper article in the UK claimed that consecutive lottery numbers are more likely to be drawn. And that it was a prominent Oxford Maths Professor that said so.
This would be highly plausible if Professor Marcus du Sautoy actually did say so. But the reality is not nearly that straightforward.
Simply Not True
What Professor du Sautoy actually said was that less people tend to pick consecutive numbers when playing the lottery. Which means that you are less likely to have to share the jackpot if those numbers come up. And that was the only reason he suggested choosing them.
He then went on to state categorically that all combinations have exactly the same chance of winning.
So how did this get translated into playing consecutive numbers to increase your chances?
We Want To Believe
For the same reason that most lottery number myths end up becoming ‘knowledge’. The writer of the article let their desire for a secret to beating the lottery cloud the facts they were being presented with.
We all want to believe that there is a system there to beat the lottery. If only we were as intelligent as those maths Professors, then we could pick the right combinations.
But Facts Are Facts
The fact is those maths Professors know that no such thing exists. As eminent Professor du Sautoy stated – all combinations in a lottery have an equal chance. That’s from the lips of an Oxford Professor – who has been named as a leading scientist in the UK, won awards for outstanding maths research amongst others, and just received an OBE in 2010.
This man knows what he is talking about. His academic work is based around number theory.
Not The Only Misconception
Consecutive numbers are certainly not the only 사설토토 ones to be singled out incorrectly either.
Many people play numbers that have been drawn more often in the past. These are often referred to as ‘hot’ numbers. They believe that because they have been drawn more in the past, that they will be drawn more in the future too.
This is of course nonsense. Lottery companies are required to take extreme measures to ensure the draw is random and fair. It is illegal to run an unfair lottery, so the executives of those lottery companies do not mind spending a lot of money to be sure their draws are random.
If anything unusual was happening with a lottery game, that meant it was showing any bias to particular numbers the lottery company would know and do something about it.
The Opposite Is False Too
The funny thing about hot numbers is that there are just as many people who believe the exact opposite, that ‘cold’ numbers are more likely to appear because they haven’t been drawn for a long time. Which is also nonsense of course.
Because as the real maths Professors say, it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, because all of those numbers are still just as likely to come out next draw.
So the next time you see someone selling a lottery system or book that says it can help you choose numbers that are more (or less) likely to be drawn, maybe you should ask them how they know better than an Oxford Professor of Mathematics.
Do you have questions about playing the lottery? Get real answers here.
Mark Haigh is a mathematician and writer with a particular interest in probability and statistics. He also has a secret fascination with lottery syndicates. If you’d like to start one of your own, read our guide ‘ how to run a lottery syndicate ‘ or get in touch for more help.