As far as I understand the theory of probability - and I may not, because the textbook I read on it seemed to me to contain some errors - winning the lottery once has precisely no effect on your chances of winning again. It's like throwing six sixes in a row, the chances of that happening are low, but having thrown the first six it doesn't either lessen or increase your chances of throwing the next six. What exactly that means or why it is useful to know was not made clear. After all, if you've placed your bet on throwing six sixes it is of no consequence whatsoever how many you throw if it is less than six.

That's exactly right. It's one of many examples of how our intuition is counter to reality. We feel that winning the lottery once would make it extremely unlikely to win again. Of course, we

*are* extremely unlikely to win again, but no more so than we were to win once. Similarly, few people would put the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the lottery, thinking they would never come up, but they are no less likely to be drawn than any other sequence.

I'm sure Susan Blackmore did an experiment where she found people who believe in the supernatural are more likely to think that, after rolling a number on one die, it was less likely they would roll that same number again on the subsequent throw. Her hypothesis was that people who believe in woo woo have less awareness of probabilities and ascribe supernatural agents to unlikely, but still totally possible, events.

My neighbour's daughter's ex won a million on the lottery many years ago, so I don't doubt people win. However, I have noticed that, whenever the rules change (price rises, available numbers increase), I get a flurry of minor wins as though to keep me interested, then suddenly nothing for ages. Could just be coincidence, but there's no reason it couldn't be fixed. It was particularly disingenuous of them to increase the available numbers, thus decreasing your chances of a major win by a substation value, and sell it as giving people more choice. It was shortly after that happened that I stopped doing the lottery.