An ex-colleague of mine has written a book in which he purports to have devised a way of predicting the lottery. It is called How to Predict Future Lottery Results: know tomorrow’s numbers today on a month-by-month basis by Francis Isaac. I was initially doubtful because he has a job. If I knew how to win the lottery, I wouldn’t have a job. I looked at his book, and I am disappointed to report that he does not tell you how he actually predicts the lottery. What Dr Isaac (yes, his book goes on and on about the fact he has a lot education) does is gives you a list of 2-number combinations under the heading of a month. As he is my colleague, I got an opportunity to talk to him about what is going on.
Dr Isaac has spent the last 17 years collecting and analysing lottery results from a lot of 6 out of 49-ball (6/49) lotteries across the globe (I couldn’t discern from him whether it was all of them). He believes he has found two basic patterns, which I will share with you. He then believes that the tables he gives you offer a way of utilising the patterns to increase your chances of matching 2 numbers in a 49 ball lottery.
Yes, 2 numbers. That’s not quite the same promise as made in the title. 2 numbers will only win you anything if you make the bet at a bookie’s shop; the National lottery doesn’t care for two numbers.
The patterns are this:
- If a certain number, X, comes out in a lottery draw then another certain number, Y, is more likely to come out.
For example, you know the number 1 is going to come out in a draw, then the number 2 has a chance of coming out that is greater than 1/48. (I can’t guarantee that is a real example, but that’s the idea and the example he gave me).
- Certain numbers are more likely to come out in certain months of the year.
In the month of May, every year, numbers in the mid-40s are more likely to come out, especially in combinations with single-digit numbers. There is a more precise way of utilising the numbers. To find that out (assuming you believe this), I think it’s only fair that you buy the book.
In Dr Isaac’s defense, the data he presents is evidence based; he really has looked at trends across the globe. What he hasn’t done is explained what the significance of these trends is: does 2 come out more often with 1 at a rate of 1% or 70% more often?If the patterns found are very minimal, they could be chance and have no predictive power. If his patterns frequently show a 70% advantage, that would suggest something is going on (opposed to random fluctuations).
For the month of May Dr Isaac offered a total of 69 number combinations that could come out in the national lottery. Correct. He is awarding himself a total of 69 shots at winning a 2-number hit. Someone put their sceptical hat on, because there is science to be done!
This is where my input comes in. Currently, Dr Isaac claims that the system helps him make a hit on the lottery every month. He even has the receipts to prove it. What he is less forthcoming about is exactly how many tickets he has to buy to make a hit. However, he has confessed that his next goal is to make the system profitable. It makes me wish I’d taken a career as a bookie. The system is not profitable yet (unless you include profits from the sales of the book, I’m sure). My next goal is not to make his system profitable. My next goal is to see whether his system has a hit rate above that of sheer chaos. His numbers promise 3 2-number hits per month.
Microsoft Excel has a random number generator. I used that generator “=randbetween(1, 49)” to come up with tables analogous to his, except my numbers were not derived from 17 years of “scientific and experimentally observed results” (from the blurb). I hope my readers are scientifically minded enough to notice what it is I have offered: a control. He claims his results are scientifically observed, but he has never had a control. The only question that remains now is whether his ordered system is more successful than my chaotic one. If so, the implication is that there is predictability in the lottery and this system can be developed into a lottery-winning system. If that happens I’m sure I shall be scorned for my scepticism and not receive any charity. However, if not, it has been an unfortunate waste of a project that inspired hope.
Before I share (or even discover) the results I want to ponder a moral quandary. Dr Isaac is a friendly, personable and highly intelligent man. I like him. And he is a colleague. Given that I know it is near-impossible for a person to not invest their ego in a project like this, is it really right for me to doggedly invest in my scepticism? Is that not antisocial and unfriendly? or, do I owe it to him as a mark of respect? I feel it is the latter. But as the dogged persecutor, is that not bias? I think my efforts show that I respect him enough to take him seriously and no part of me is fully sceptical, yet; I’d be excited to discover he is right. But I am aware that it looks like argumentativeness. And how presumptuous am I, to write that before I even do the study? But that’s enough of the social squirming an angst…
I wrote the above in May. Between May and today (7 Oct 2014) Dr Isaac has been using my random number table. Although it is true that Dr Isaacs’ table has not failed to meet his promise of 3 two number hits every month, neither has my random number table. In August, my random number table made 4 hits. In June, Dr Isaac’s table also made 4 hits (including one hit from a number combination that was in 2 table; perhaps we can call that 5 hits).
And you can replicate this by creating a random number table and buying the book and just looking at historical hits. You create 3 tables under each month, each the same size as the tables in Dr Isaacs’ book (they are all slightly different size, average around 16 rows per table).
The conclusion from this is pretty clear: Dr Isaacs’ book does not predict the lottery. It doesn’t even predict a 2-number hit at a higher rate than choas.