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Space Science

100/1 Odds On 'First Contact' Within a Year 309

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the cross-your-fingers dept.
astroengine writes "After all the kerfuffle of 'Ambassadorgate' — when the UK media went nuts over the rumored promotion of Mazlan Othman to become the UN's first choice as mankind's alien point of contact — it would appear that gamblers saw this as a tip that an alien landing was imminent."
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100/1 Odds On 'First Contact' Within a Year

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  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @10:45AM (#33735144) Homepage Journal

    No, all "100 to one odds" means in this context is if you bet a dollar they'll be here in a year and they show up, you win $100. It has nothing to do with the real probabilities, which are as close to zero as you can get.

  • Re:Game changer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @10:48AM (#33735194)

    Wow, I just realized what a brilliant move this is on the part of the betting house. The fools who bet for it happening just aren't going to win, the fools who bet against it happening... well, take their stake, put it in a CD for 12 months, then give them their 1% winnings, while you keep the other 2% for yourself.

  • Re:Only 100/1? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @10:59AM (#33735364) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, why not 10,000:1 or even 1,000,000:1. They would get a lot more takers and they still wouldn't have to pay out. I mean the lottery is in some cases over 60 million:1 and people will happily give out a dollar to that. Of course, the lottery is a lot more likely to fall in your favor then aliens landing any time soon.
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:37PM (#33736782) Homepage

    Do you realize how much our understanding of the universe has changed in 100 years? Do you realize how much our technology has advanced in 100 years?

    For all we know, there is a galactic Internet accessible via quantum effects of some sort. Tapping that would be first contact. Alternatively, synthetic lifeforms may be trying to replicate themselves by broadcasting the schematics for their hardware/software throughout the universe via radio waves, being "born" whenever some curious species detects the signal and builds it. Build it and talk to it -BAM- that's first contact. Considering the size of the universe and the principles of evolution, this later idea seems down-right likely, not just plausible.

    We don't have to be physically visited to make first contact.

  • Re:Only 100/1? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... minus physicist> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:46PM (#33738992) Homepage Journal

    You are presuming that the bookies here are going to have a loss if the aliens show up.

    Most places like this set the odds based upon the ratio of what others are placing for bets. There are certainly a great many willing to take this as a sucker's bet and likely put a whole bunch of money down even if the pay--back is just a few percentage points more on the return. That increases the odds because more people are signing up and expecting that the aliens aren't going to be coming.

    Let me be more clear here with a good example: Let's say a group of people put together $1000 saying that the aliens are going to show up. Another group puts together $100,000 that the aliens aren't going to come. That gives you the 100:1 betting ratio. The bookie (the "gaming company") isn't really putting anything into this other than holding the money and charging a small fee... say 1% of that money... from everybody placing a bet. So the gaming company keeps roughly $1000 for holding the money and the "winner" gets the combined pot of whatever is left proportionally for what they put into the pot.

    Only a stupid bookie gets caught up into his own game, even if it is a "sure bet". Perhaps some of them will put up their own money, but not often. They make the money from the betting process itself not from winning or losing a bet. If the aliens show up, it won't be the gaming company that will be pissed off. Those who thought they made a sucker's bet that turned out wrong.... those will be the guys who will be pissed.

    BTW, if a whole bunch of tin-foil hat nerds show up and throw a million bucks into the game, the 100:1 ratio won't be maintained. In that case, the ration will be 1:10 where those betting the aliens won't be coming will be getting $10 buck for every buck they put in. The gaming company collects a larger fee and it becomes something that would be attractive to start placing bets that the aliens won't be coming. In other words, the gaming company is going to be posting record profits even if the aliens come. The betting odds are only suggesting what other suckers are thinking of the situation.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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