Gambling with ferocious dogs and crossing roads

by Captain Walker

Categories: Psychology & Philosophy, Science & Medicine

For many people – and I don’t know what percentage – taking any sort of chance is ‘a gamble‘ or ‘gambling‘. Therefore crossing the road is taking a gamble because that is taking a chance with one’s life or limb(s).

For them it means that loads of people are gambling with their lives everyday. Likewise, buying a property (house) is a gamble – a very big one. Price may appreciate or depreciate (the two main concerns). If the latter, you lose equity. Buying a new car is almost never seen as gambling, because everybody accepts that the ‘chance’ means that you’re bound to lose money (aka value of the car) over the next 3 years or whatever. Thousands of businesses fail everyday in the UK. Some would say ‘They’re all gambling‘.

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But wait – buying a new car (where you’re bound to lose) is not gambling, but rolling dice at a casino or playing the National Lottery is?

Risk

Risk is simply the probability of adverse out come. But as we’re living in a post-truth world crowd sentiment on what a thing is matters most. Not to me of course.

Taking a chance and losses do not define ‘a gamble’ or ‘gambling’. You could have taken all adequate precautions in crossing a busy road and still get run over. Life is like that.

You could have done all the research on house prices and demonstrated the best due diligence, yet the value of the property plummets after purchase. How? ‘You’ don’t control the housing market. It does what it likes.

A gamble or gambling is this:

  1. Taking reckless uninformed chances.
  2. Not managing risk.
  3. Not controlling losses.

Ferocious dogs

So – passing close to a growling and snarling dog and not working out how much meat you’ll allow it to take out of your leg is definitely gambling! How? It is reckless, you don’t manage the risk, and you don’t consider the amount of meat you might lose from your leg. Jeez! It is so simple!

But even if you weren’t reckless, managed the risk by giving distance, and said to yourself “That dog is not getting meat out of me!” – means that you won’t get a chunk taken out of you. How? Jeeez! I have to explain everything.

The dog may have come at you – and any distance you gave which you thought safe, became meaningless.

Controlling risk and loss does not mean you won’t lose – and loss in itself does not define gambling.

Rude interruption

Stupid: So you’re saying that you might as well gamble! What nonsense is this.

CW: Caution. You’re on a tight leash. I said nothing of the sort.

Stupid: Well, you said whether you gamble or not in passing the dog, you could still lose part of your leg. So that means the issue of gambling is irrelevant.

CW:  That’s fine for you – and actually you don’t even have a leg, or any other limbs cuz you’re a non-bodily entity existing only in my brain.

Stupid: Ha ha!

CW: But if you had a leg would you prefer to pass close to the dog or give it some distance.

Stupid: Give it some distance.

CW: Why?

Stupid: Because it would have less chance of biting my leg, obviously!

CW: Good. So chance is a probability.

Stupid: And?

CW: You just admitted that you wanted to give it less chance.

Stupid: So?

CW: OMG! This is painful. The issue is therefore not that it might take a chunk out of your leg, but about reducing the chance that it may take a chunk out.

Stupid: I still don’t get it.

CW: You won’t. Back in the box.

[collapse]

Crossing the road

Every day people take chances in crossing busy roads. Most never get run over. The reason for that is that the majority would assess the risk, and control the risk by watching carefully for a gap in the criss-cross of traffic, or they may use traffic lights at pedestrian crossings etc. But a minority of those who do all the latter will still get run over. Obviously, they couldn’t calculate for all variables in the world, like some nutter driving at 70mph – coming out of nowhere – or some other nutter busting through traffic lights. If one had to worry about all those smaller probabilities, one would remain stuck on one side of the road. So, unconsciously people accept small(er) risks after taking precautions.

I know of one very sad situation closer to home a few years ago, when a young lady of about 18 (no relative of mine – just in case), was run over by a car and killed on the spot, when she crossed at a quiet pedestrian crossing 30 metres from her home at about 02:30AM in the morning. Her mother heard some commotion outside, ran out of her house to cuddle her daughter in the middle of the road. Unconscious she exhaled her last breath in her mother’s arms. The facts of the incident were not fully known. But it appeared that the driver was doing 70mph in a 30mph zone and came out of ‘nowhere’ and was said by bystanders to be drunk. Some would blame the deceased for not looking and listening carefully at that hour of the morning. I wouldn’t.

Rude interruption

Stupid: Well, she should have been more careful.

CW: That’s a totally callous thing to say! You weren’t there!

Stupid: She was probably on her headphones and not being very attentive.

CW: You weren’t there! Don’t turn ideas in your head into fact.

Stupid: You’re just trying to excuse her and blame a drunk driver.

CW: Utter nonsense. People are naturally less attentive at 02:30AM when crossing a quiet road without traffic.

Stupid: So what?

CW: Right – this is getting totally ridiculous. You don’t know the deceased young lady. I knew of her. She was no dimwit. So I can say with greater certainty that she would have crossed at those traffic lights umpteen times in getting to her home 30 metres away, and that she would have taken adequate precautions relative to that time of the night.

Stupid: She was gambling with her life. She died.

CW: Right – I give up. You’re shoved back in the box, instantly!

[collapse]

The point I was trying to make when I was rudely interrupted, was that ‘the chance’ itself is not gambling – else everything in life would be a gamble. Being born or giving birth would be gambling – and that would be pure nonsense! Everyday people take chances – even with things like eating where they can choke on food and die  – or with walking up or down stairs where they could trip, fall and break something.

Conclusions

  1. Chance does not define gambling.
  2. Loss does not define gambling.
  3. Recklessness and loss of control define gambling.
  4. Engaging in an activity where one has no control and is at the mercy of chance, is gambling.

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