Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Unlucky for some

I was interested to read in Saturday's Telegraph that the lottery ball least likely to be drawn is number 13. That the story was part of a stunt to publicise the 13th anniversary of the National Lottery shouldn't distract from this remarkable statistic, for it surely provides some of the strongest evidence so far for the existence of the paranormal.

Since the lottery was launched, the 13 ball has consistently underperformed; it once failed to be drawn for 49 weeks in a row. Why should 13 be so unlucky? Chance is one possibility, of course: a one in 50 chance. Alternatively it may not be a coincidence. Among those who are influenced by superstition in their choice of numbers, 13's reputation is likely to make it less popular. So few people will be willing it to come up on the weekly draw.

I don't believe in that sort of rubbish, of course. That's why I've never once bought a ticket.

Also on the subject of luck, it is reported that Gordon Brown is to stop attending sporting events because English and Scottish teams always seem to lose when he is there. When the England football team lost 2-1 to Germany in August he was sitting next to Angela Merkel. Brown also saw England beaten by South Africa in the rugby, and Scotland lose to Italy at Hampden Park.

"Some people had argued that the Prime Minister had not necessarily been the best of omens so far," said his official spokesman.

Indeed. Whether it's losing football matches or the personal data of twenty six million people, Gordon is officially a harbinger of doom.