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Gambling destructively is certainly foolish, you're right, but there are gamblers who are really good at it. They are truly skilled at the game and make good money doing it.

And then there are those who get a high from the risk, which is not a very good place to be psychologically, because losing it all is part of the equation all the time.

You'e absolutely right, there are good gamblers and there are bad gamblers. There have to be. This is what gambling is. Whether you're good at - approach it rationally - or bad at it - approach it emotionally - you're dependent upon the other group. All gambling is a zero-sum game. Unlike in business or investing - which is routinely smeared as gambling although it is fundamentally different - there is no trade of value for value for mutual-benefit. There is only a winner and a loser. If you're a winning gambler, you're fundamentally a predator on the stupidity of others and if you a losing gambler, you're fundamentally the prey. Neither group is really after values and so they desire money. Instead they are engaged in a kind of ridiculous power-struggle to show dominance in an otherwise useless activity.

From my observations of my father's gambling problem, I learned that even when he would win, he would continue to play. Not because he sees another clear opportunity to win, but because, subconciously, he doesn't feel that he deserves what he has "earned" and so he isn't opposed to risking it yet again. Conversely, when he loses, it helps to confirm his basic view of himself as an unlucky, undeserving person. Now, he certainly is an extreme case, and most people when they gamble do so merely to spend time with friends or to enjoy the glitz and glamous of a casino or whatever. But it is my theory that anyone who seriously considers gambling as a legitimate means of income suffers, to some degree, from a lower sense of self-worth than someone who doesn't.

To relate this back to Michael Vick, I think that it's no coincidence that if your entertainment - your spiritual nourishment - has to come from the killing of inferior life forms then your view of the source of wealth is the exploiting of mentally inferior or morally flawed individuals. Vick certainly didn't need the money he could win from gambling, but what he did need, desperately, was the sense of dominance over his fellow gamblers that the dog fights gave him the opportunity to acquire.

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You'e absolutely right, there are good gamblers and there are bad gamblers. There have to be. This is what gambling is. Whether you're good at - approach it rationally - or bad at it - approach it emotionally - you're dependent upon the other group. All gambling is a zero-sum game.

Not quite. In Roulette, the House has a number on which it collects money = 1/38 of the total money bet on average even though the House makes no bets of its own. The House can only win. To put a point on it, the odds are stacked slightly in favor of the House. By rights, the House should pay the winner of a bet on the number that comes up at 37 to 1. They only pay off at 35 to 1. The House collects the difference. That is basically why Roulette is not zero sum.

When blackjack players discovered they could return the favor and achieve favorable odds by card counting, they were able to win, since knowing the state of the boot gave them a slight advantage. It did not take long for the gambling houses to take counter measures which ranged anywhere from evicting suspected or known card counters to having a very large boot which made card counting virtually impossible.

The true zero sum game is paramutual betting which merely distributes the money bet by the players. The establishment diminishes the payoff by a slight amount to collect for the service of providing the betting environment. You see this system at race tracks. The Track collects on tickets, on a small skim off of the betting and charging the race horse owners and operators for the use of the paddocks. That is not exactly zero sum since they always collect. But restricting the matter to the bettors, the bet money is merely redistributed. That part is zero sum.

Poker is zero sum also. The money put down by the players is redistributed among the players. In legal poker parlors the House only charges for the use of the chips, the cards and the table. They always collect for the service rendered.

Bob Kolker

Edited by Robert J. Kolker
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Yes, the majority of people who have ever gambled in their lives don't have gambling problems.

So then you must define what you mean by a "gambler." I think your definition by it's nature probably includes "problem gamblers" as opposed to any person who gambles. In essence, problem gamblers have a problem.

Your claim still remains unsubstantiated unless we just take your personal evidence on it's face, which you will find in most cases on here people will not.

He has lied and stolen repeatedly to support his gambling habit.

No, they're not homeless psychopaths sitting on NJs boardwalk waiting for their ship to come in - I don't know why you thought that that was who I mean

Exactly how are you trying to characterize the "average" gambler then? I think that is the claim that remains unsubstantiated, or at the least, not clearly stated.

You can't honestly say that the majority of people who frequently patronize these insitutions are working professionals with healthy 401(k)s and $0 credit card balances.

But then you can't honestly say that everyone who fits the above credentials is mentally healthy, not a liar or a cheat or a thief. So where does that leave us?

I've seen any number of people playing lotto, from once in a while to every day, and I don't speculate in depth as to what the rest of their life might like based on 1 minute of contact in a convenience store. I've seen some people that probably have a problem, but far many more where such speculation would be unjustified. I deal with a diverse group of people on a daily basis as a cop.

But it is my theory that anyone who seriously considers gambling as a legitimate means of income suffers, to some degree, from a lower sense of self-worth than someone who doesn't.

Okay, then we can recognize this as your theory, albiet unsubstantiated. However, I know quite a few people who do not seriously consider gambling as a legitimate means of income (and who themselves don't gamble at all) who have horrible self-esteem and self-worth.

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Mr. Kolker,

I don't understand any of what you said about roulette or blackjack and I don't think it matters. Okay, maybe in some types of gambling the gamblers between themselves don't engage in a zero-sum game, but the house (which could also legitimately be called a gambler since it is possible that they could lose everything as well) itself is engaged in a zero-sum game between itself and it's customers. Unlike a legitimate business, where the customer profits materially or existentially while the business profits monetarily, a gambling house, in order to profit, has to induce it's customers to lose.

As far as horse racing goes I realize that the above doesn't apply. I don't consider horse racing (or any other sport that people bet on regularly) as inherently worthless. There is actual entertainment value involved in watching a horse run and unlike dog fighting where it never is, if done responsibly can actually be good for the horse. To pay a fee to be entertained is not a zero-sum game, and so to watch horse racing for the sheer enjoyment of it is not wrong.

Rational Biker,

I did define what I meant by "problem gambler." It is somone who conciously considers gambling as a legitimate means of income and who spends money that they can't afford, that they would use towards another goal, or who excepts to finance goals with gambling winnings.

I agree with you that you can't identify if someone has a gambling problem simply by standing behind them in the convenience store while they buy stratch-off tickets. But you can, by observing the fact that the advertising for gambling is nearly as common as advertising for soda, combined whith the observable fact that a great many people drink soda regularly, conclude that gambling is a regular occurance for a sizeable portion of the population. Even if it's only 2 or 3 dollars a week, that is still 2 or 3 dollars of actual value that they are giving up for the chance to take 2 or 3 million dollars of actual value from a bunch of other people. No, it's not a great act of self-destruction to play the lotto periodically, but it certainly isn't indicative of a full, rational appreciation for the function of money.

As for your point about self-esteem, I certainly don't contend that the only manifestation of a sense of low self-worth is to gamble. There are plenty of ways to try to convince yourself that you're worthless. You can drink every day, take drugs, have premiscuous sex, or even just tell self-depricating jokes as inappropriate times. I'm merely saying that gambing - or, I should say, seriously gambling - is an indication of low self-esteem.

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if your entertainment - your spiritual nourishment - has to come from the killing of inferior life forms

Not commenting on the rest of what you've said; just this. Please be careful with your wording. You could easily describe hunting that way. What you mean to say, I hope, is that if your spiritual nourishment has to come from watching psychotic beasts rip each other to shreds for no reason other than bloodlust.

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Ugh. It just gets worse and worse. My husband spoke with a woman today who works for the Denver DA's office and she said the news hasn't even reported the worst of it. One of the things she mentioned was that the authorities found rape cages in which female dogs were placed with their hind legs tied up so that males could have sex with them whether the females were ready or not. This just further illustrates the psychotic nature of these moronic dog fighters. A female dog will allow a male to have sex with her when she is most fertile, so these idiots probably weren't even increasing the female's odds of getting pregnant. (They probably just enjoyed watching the rape.)

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But you can, by observing the fact that the advertising for gambling is nearly as common as advertising for soda, combined whith the observable fact that a great many people drink soda regularly, conclude that gambling is a regular occurance for a sizeable portion of the population.

This is not an accurate conclusion at all. "I see a lot of lotto ads and soda ads. I see a lot of people drinking soda. A lot of people must therefore play lotto."? You are basically doing little more than just randomly guessing. Specifically, what would you consider a "sizeable portion" of the population? 5%? 10%? 50%? 80%? And what percentage of people do you think that drink soda regularly? For that matter, how regular is considered regularly?

Even if it's only 2 or 3 dollars a week, that is still 2 or 3 dollars of actual value that they are giving up for the chance to take 2 or 3 million dollars of actual value from a bunch of other people. No, it's not a great act of self-destruction to play the lotto periodically, but it certainly isn't indicative of a full, rational appreciation for the function of money.

You're not giving up your money when you play the lotto. You are TRADING it for a shot at a huge pot. There is a clear difference. And why is it indicative of a lack of rational appreciation for money? You see a product, you know what it offers, and you decide if it is worth that dollar or two. That's rational.

As for your point about self-esteem, I certainly don't contend that the only manifestation of a sense of low self-worth is to gamble. There are plenty of ways to try to convince yourself that you're worthless. You can drink every day, take drugs, have premiscuous sex, or even just tell self-depricating jokes as inappropriate times. I'm merely saying that gambing - or, I should say, seriously gambling - is an indication of low self-esteem.

Why is serious gambling necessarily an indication of low self-esteem?? To be honest I think your experience with your father colors all of these assessments.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine entered Stanford business school. We started playing poker at around the same time during college, and he was the one that introduced me to online poker. After a year in business school, he noticed that at the higher stakes cash games, he was able to consistently pull in between $1,500 to $3,000 on a weekly basis. It was long before he decided to drop out of business school and began playing poker full time. Now, if anything, I think to be able to drop out of school and gamble full time requires a HUGE amount of confidence in one's own abilities, and would actually be the complete opposite of low self-esteem. In fact, he is one of the more intelligent and confident people I know.

Now, these kind of people are rare. I don't doubt that. But certainly there are many, many online poker players I know that play smaller sums as hobbies on a regular basis who do NOT in anyway seem like they have low self-esteems. They approach the game rationally, they are highly disciplined, they assess the odds, they read their opponent's betting patterns, they maneuver their board position, and they play mind games. There is nothing about being highly skilled at a game that is indicative of low self-esteem.

The truth is that the people who have low self-esteem will often lose at just about anything because they are unable to put out 100% of their mind and effort behind what they do. It doesn't have to be gambling. Really it could be anything -- business, career, sports, or heck, even romance. Serious gambling does not in and of itself indicate low self-esteem.

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I did define what I meant by "problem gambler."

Let me repeat;

So then you must define what you mean by a "gambler." I think your definition by it's nature probably includes "problem gamblers" as opposed to any person who gambles.

So I wasn't asking you to define "problem gambler", I was asking you to define "gambler".

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Rational Biker,

I'm sorry for overlooking that you only asked me to define "gambler." I'm not sure why you're asking again, but I'll define it for you anyways.

A gambler is someone who is gambling. People who you would call "gamblers" and I would call "people who gamble" are people who aren't gambling for gambing's sake. They are seeking something else out of the experience. Maybe it's the socializing, the interesting, colorful environments where gambling usually occurs, or just the sheer pleasure of exercising one's mind to figure out a puzzle. They are not in it for the money. If they win, they don't feel more efficatious in their ability to support their lives and if they lose, they don't feel less. They realize, usually subconciously, that the act of guessing someone else's cards or running a horse in a circle contributes nothing to their lives by itself. They view the money involved as simply payment for the enjoyment they receive experiencing these acts and do not consider these products, unlike most everything else that they spend their money on, as essential to their well-being.

If someone goes to Las Vegas and spends $35,000 on hotel rooms, meals, shows, tours of the Hoover Dam, and does some gambling he isn't a problem gambler. But if someone takes the $200 he was going to spend on a "Just Because" gift for his wife and plays the Lotto with the intention that he will instead take her on the $35,000 Las Vegas vacation she's been wanting when he wins has a problem.

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Rational Biker,

I'm sorry for overlooking that you only asked me to define "gambler."

I have to continue to agree with Moebius. You are making some huge whooping generalizations about gamblers that I don't think you have supported in argument.

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Moebius,

I agree that your friend has a huge amount of confidence in his ability. He evidentely is very good at sniffing out the weaknesses of others and exploiting them. He also must have a huge amount of confidence that weaker people are plentiful to quit college and dedicate himself to going after them.

On another topic, not that I should have to be defending that policy against you of all people, but how is it a random guess to conclude that the lotto is regularly played? Would it be inaccurate to say that hip hop music is popular because it is on the radio all the time, on television regularly, and that hip hop artists travel the country preforming it? Would it be jumping to conclusions to say that automobiles are a popular means of transportation when I step outside and see them all over the place? I must be out of my mind when I say that houses are the preferred type of shelter in this country merely because most people live in them. It doesn't matter if I'm talking about 5% of the population or 80% playing, what I'm pointing out is that evidently the lotto is played often enough that lotto tickets are sold all over the place. We can discuss whether or not playing the lotto is a good thing to do, but please don't be ridiculous.

Let's do just that. The fact is that you are giving up your money when you play the lotto. Yes, you're gettng a chance to get it back, but you're not getting anything that hasn't already been given up and will never be recovered. When you invest in the stock market, you're not trading your money for a chance to share in some company's future profits, you're helping to make those profits possible. Yes, there's a chance that the company won't deliver them and you'll lose your investment, but unlike the lotto, this doesn't have to happen for other investors to profit. You can make plenty of money on a stock, sell it to them, and they can make even more. You don't lose a penny.

Whether all of the lotto tickets bought in this country come from just hard-core players or they're purchased by a diffused potion of the population that plays only when the jackpots get reported on the local news, it doesn't change the fact that it's a worthless activity. In fact, it's the lowest form of gambling in that it doesn't involve any sort of skill or any sort of aesthetic appreciation (see my previous post to Rational Biker for more on this). All it involves is picking a random set of numbers, waiting for the results, and in the mean time indulging in every sort of pretentious pipe dream your mind could possibly possess. Combine that with the usually unadmitted knowledge that, if you actually do win, you've only done so because everyone else that bought a ticket has done the same thing and it makes for an interesting psychological experience.

Of course, you could rationalize all of this away and tell yourself that you won because you were more dedicated - that you played more often, that you played the right pool, or that you bought more tickets when the time was right, it doesn't change the fact that all you are is better than your opponents. You can go for years like this and live in great affluence becaouse of it, but it doesn't change the fact that you aren't actually good at anything that is actually good. Nothing you have done has contributed to anyone around you and the only reason why you beat them is because you're not quite as detatched from the meaning of work, the meaning of money, the meaning of human achievement - in short, from reality - as the rest. Of course, you could say that you don't care about other people and that they're not being coerced to play against you. That may be true, but then why do you want their money and the goods and the services that they produce if you don't value their root: human intelligence?

When you gamble, all that occurs is a transfer of wealth. If you're going to stand for free markets and individual rights and denounce the government when engages in massive transfers of wealth, don't use what increasingly little freedom we have convincing people that it's in their interest to risk having it occur voluntarily.

Perhaps this discussion should be broken off into another thread.

Edit: I forgot to specify whom this is addressed to.

Edited by stephenmallory
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He evidentely is very good at sniffing out the weaknesses of others and exploiting them. He also must have a huge amount of confidence that weaker people are plentiful to quit college and dedicate himself to going after them.

I think this statement exemplifies the bias you appear to have against gamblers and/or gambling in general.

It's interesting that it's considering exploiting weaker people when you gamble, but I bet (no pun intended) you consider it competitive when stronger athletes beat weaker athletes. Many people in a variety of different jobs and talents "gamble" that they can do something better than another "weaker" person. It is the very heart of competition to pit one's skills and abilities against those of anothers where people typically "betting" that theirs will prevail, whether they are physical skills, mental skills, or a combination of both.

I certainly understand how one's personal experiences can cause one to have difficulty viewing something from and objective perspective. I think alcohol is one of the greatest banes of mankind based on my personal experience. Yet, I do have realize that many people consume alcohol rationally and responsibly, and in ways that are beneficial to their life. But my father's alcohol use sure fubar'd a lot of things while I was growing up. And I see plenty of lives on the fast track to the grave every day at work because of alcohol.

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Rational Biker,

My father has nothing to do with it. I have said time and time again in this discussion that there are plenty of people who can responsibly gamble simply for the entertainment value that it brings them. But unlike my father, if they didn't have their friends or family with them, a buffet nearby, or simply didn't just love watching horses run, they wouldn't do it. They wouldn't sit in dark room, alone, picking numbers on a screen. They certainly wouldn't give up a spot in Stanford's business school to do it if it didn't touch on something deeper about who they are.

Yes, I am arguing against gambling per se because I don't think there is any value in it, but that does not mean that no value can ever be derived from an experience involving gambling. I'm simply saying that if you enjoy your friends so much, or well-decorated rooms, or horses why not just drop the pretext and enjoy those things openly?

Now to your point about competition. Of course, there is nothing wrong with competition. Athletes compete all of the time and they even exploit one another's weaknesses from time to time, but that is not the point of the competition. To consider yourself good, or even the best, at a sport does not mean that you have to be infallable at it. It simply means that you try your best and you realize that if unforseen circumstances arise - most likely a more skilled competitor - you will lose. You know that eventually, given the limitation of the human body and/or the human mind, eventually one of you will make a mistake causing the other to win. This should not properly be considered a weakness because humans are not omnipotent either. Your competitor cannot simply will himself to go on performing at his highest level indefinitely. But the longer he does, the more fun it is. My favorite sport is baseball, and I can tell you that the most exciting games are those nail biters that go deep into extra innings. I would have no respect for the New York Yankees if all they did during the off-season was lobby to be scheduled for 162 games against the Kansas City Royals.

The rational competitor does not look for the weakest competition he can find to increase his chances of winning any more than he turns down the challege of a stronger competition to decrease his chances of losing. That's because winning is not the ultimate purpose behind competing - it is to derive the value of performing the action. You compete because you enjoy playing that sport, and without someone to compete against, you wouldn't be able to play. Even the rational, non-serious gambler understands this when, not risking anything significant (like a college education), he gambles merely for the joy of using his mind to solve a puzzle.

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My father has nothing to do with it. I have said time and time again in this discussion that there are plenty of people who can responsibly gamble simply for the entertainment value that it brings them.

And there are also responsbible people who can gamble to win money AND enjoy the game. There are rational gamblers who do not necessarily seek to "prey" on the weakest opponent and yet still make plenty of money doing so whilie improving their game. This is at the heart of your presumption; that Moebius' friend is only making money because he's "preying" on weaker opponent's and not playing against people who are also skillful, that playing because you enjoy making money doing something else you also enjoy is a bad thing. Making money is not evil. Wanting to make money is not evil or a sign of some character flaw.

I am arguing against gambling per se because I don't think there is any value in it

Yes, I know. And you have failed totally thus far in proving this point.

That's because winning is not the ultimate purpose behind competing

I take it you are speaking for yourself here because that depends on the competitor. I don't see many people in competitions striving to be 3rd place. You pit "the win" against the "love of the sport" as though they are mutually exclusive. It's nice to compete, but it's better (generally) to be the best, to be the winner, to strive for that win, rather than just competing for the sake of the "love of the sport".

My favorite sport is baseball, and I can tell you that the most exciting games are those nail biters that go deep into extra innings. I would have no respect for the New York Yankees if all they did during the off-season was lobby to be scheduled for 162 games against the Kansas City Royals.

You can tell me that YOUR most exciting games are those that....just as you can tell me that YOU derive no value from gambling. I watch Baseball as well at times. Some of the most boring and dull games were ones that went to 14 innings and finished 1 to 0.

I think at this point I won't respond any more until I see an argument against gambling or gamblers that has merit.

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Well, Rational Biker, I don't think you'll be responding any more because according to your standards of merit, nothing is objectively more meritorious than anything else.

Of course I am speaking for myself in everything I have said. These are all my personal opinions and feelings - why wouldn't they be? How does this make anything I have said to support them not objectively valid? You keep telling me that my feelings and opinions are just mine yet the only counter-arguments you've presented have been "and these are the feeling and opinions of these people." If that's your standard, what makes their's valid and mine not? I've yet to hear anything.

I completely agree that Moebius' friend enjoys what he does and takes pride in the fact that he is good at it and that he makes money doing it. We have never been debating the polled results of what all types of different people think or say they feel about gambling. None of this conversation has been about what someone like Moebius' friend conciously believes or what he predominantly feels about gambling. Rather, it is a dispute over what it is about him that makes him feel the way he does when he gambles and what philosophical ideas does he hold that makes him feel it is a legitimate way to make - or should I say "take" - money. You remember that this all started when I asserted that people who take gambling seriously suffer from a lower, or if you like, flawed self-image right? Don't forget that this is a debate about the psychological causes and effects of gambling.

I've never said that desiring money is wrong or that engaging in competition as a means to make money is wrong. I've simply said that if someone engages in competition for the sole purpose of making money, they have misidentified the source of money: production - not competition. Please don't tag me with socialist or altruist sentiments when I haven't expressed them.

You say that "it's better (generally) to be the best." You're right. When gambling is not involved, people that compete at something professionally don't get paid to win - they get paid to be the best. From working to produce a valuable product. It comes from being good enough at what they do that they attract others just to watch them do it. Yes, winning increases the crowds and therefore increases their pay, but this is not because they have won, but because they have demonstrated that they are the best. Of course, in any competition, eventually someone will have to prevail because of what I said in my previous post, but this is incidental to the fact that what you are seeing are people being pushed to perform at the best of their ability because of each other. This is best expressed when they are more or less evenly matched. If one athlete simply dominates another athelete who is clearly no match for him, neither's best efforts are demonstrated and not very many people would want to watch - except maybe Michael Vick or someone who has money on the game.

I agree that the goal of any given competition should be to win. It is nice to know that your particular method of preparation and execution works. It means that, especially over a number of contests, you've learned that other methods don't work as well. It does not mean that the losers haven't enjoyed the competition just as much through learning from their mistakes, improving their physical health, making friendships, and being exposed to the myriad of other ways that sport and competition can enhance an individual's life. I think that all of this can be part of why someone would want to gamble and that even the loser can benefit in this way. But unlike a competition without gambling, the losing party stands to be penalized far beyond just the loss of what went into being able to participate and runs the risk of making any beneficial effects of the experience not worth the price. This cannot happen in legitimate competition. Even if a sports team looses every game they play, and even if they're just playing for fun with no one watching they still experience the pleasure of playing and there is no chance of undermining it.

Edited by stephenmallory
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Of course I am speaking for myself in everything I have said. These are all my personal opinions and feelings - why wouldn't they be? How does this make anything I have said to support them not objectively valid? You keep telling me that my feelings and opinions are just mine yet the only counter-arguments you've presented have been "and these are the feeling and opinions of these people." If that's your standard, what makes their's valid and mine not? I've yet to hear anything.

Finally we agree on something. This is precisely my point. Your personal opinions and feelings are not what substantiate your argument any more than anyone else's personal opinions and feelings. Since their feelings and opinions are diametrically opposed to yours, and we assume that for the sake of contradiction they both can't be right, you need something more, and that something more is what I, and I assume Moebius, have been and are still waiting for. Hence the charge, you have failed to substantiate your argument. Now that you appear to recognize that feelings and opinions are not substantive in and of themselves, what more do you have to offer to support your argument?

My own personal observations of some people who gamble do not fit the way you charactize gambling or gamblers, so in order for me to discard my own observations and opinions in favor of yours, you have to demonstrate objectively why I should and why your observations are correct and mine are not. It should be noted that I'm less interested in trying to persuade you to change your mind as I am to see if you can pony up the evidence that I should change mine.

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I agree that your friend has a huge amount of confidence in his ability. He evidentely is very good at sniffing out the weaknesses of others and exploiting them. He also must have a huge amount of confidence that weaker people are plentiful to quit college and dedicate himself to going after them.

Well, he is certainly very good at sniffing out weaknesses (and strengths, for that matter). It's more or less what 90% of poker revolves around. Although another way of thinking about what you said is that he is hugely confident that he is stronger than the majority of people and is willing to quit school to prove this to himself.

But in the end the reality is just that he likes the life style of being able to make a comfortable living doing something you love.

On another topic, not that I should have to be defending that policy against you of all people, but how is it a random guess to conclude that the lotto is regularly played? Would it be inaccurate to say that hip hop music is popular because it is on the radio all the time, on television regularly, and that hip hop artists travel the country preforming it? Would it be jumping to conclusions to say that automobiles are a popular means of transportation when I step outside and see them all over the place? I must be out of my mind when I say that houses are the preferred type of shelter in this country merely because most people live in them. It doesn't matter if I'm talking about 5% of the population or 80% playing, what I'm pointing out is that evidently the lotto is played often enough that lotto tickets are sold all over the place. We can discuss whether or not playing the lotto is a good thing to do, but please don't be ridiculous.

Yes, lotto is played often. And if that was all you said, I'd agree with you. What I have a problem with is the method with which you arrived at that conclusion -- you see soda ads everywhere, you see lotto ads everywhere, a lot of people drink soda all the time, therefore a lot of people must play lotto all the time. You are comparing apples and oranges without any back up at all, and without defining any parameters.

Let's do just that. The fact is that you are giving up your money when you play the lotto. Yes, you're gettng a chance to get it back, but you're not getting anything that hasn't already been given up and will never be recovered. When you invest in the stock market, you're not trading your money for a chance to share in some company's future profits, you're helping to make those profits possible. Yes, there's a chance that the company won't deliver them and you'll lose your investment, but unlike the lotto, this doesn't have to happen for other investors to profit. You can make plenty of money on a stock, sell it to them, and they can make even more. You don't lose a penny.

What if you're playing the futures and options market? Those are zero sum markets. You only win if someone else loses. Is that not a valid investment option?

More importantly though, you have yet to establish why zero sum games are not a rational way to spend your money. Why does it matter whether other investors can still make money after I sold my stocks to them?

Whether all of the lotto tickets bought in this country come from just hard-core players or they're purchased by a diffused potion of the population that plays only when the jackpots get reported on the local news, it doesn't change the fact that it's a worthless activity. In fact, it's the lowest form of gambling in that it doesn't involve any sort of skill or any sort of aesthetic appreciation (see my previous post to Rational Biker for more on this). All it involves is picking a random set of numbers, waiting for the results, and in the mean time indulging in every sort of pretentious pipe dream your mind could possibly possess. Combine that with the usually unadmitted knowledge that, if you actually do win, you've only done so because everyone else that bought a ticket has done the same thing and it makes for an interesting psychological experience.

I fail to see the logic that led to the conclusion that the lotto is worthless. The fact that it takes zero skill does not make it worthless. The fact that people attach hopes and dreams to their ticket does not make it worthless (in fact getting to enjoy a pipe dream is probably worth something). The fact is, people do win lotteries. It's just that the chances are extremely small. YOU choose whether or not that chance is worth a couple of dollars. Personally, sure, I'll give up the price of a cup of morning coffee for a shot at a hundred million dollars. Why not? I do so knowing that my chances are small. But the chance does exist.

To me lotto would qualify as worthless if and ONLY IF it was not possible for you to win but you do it anyway. Otherwise you make a rational choice about how whether the probability is worth it.

Of course, you could rationalize all of this away and tell yourself that you won because you were more dedicated - that you played more often, that you played the right pool, or that you bought more tickets when the time was right, it doesn't change the fact that all you are is better than your opponents. You can go for years like this and live in great affluence becaouse of it, but it doesn't change the fact that you aren't actually good at anything that is actually good. Nothing you have done has contributed to anyone around you and the only reason why you beat them is because you're not quite as detatched from the meaning of work, the meaning of money, the meaning of human achievement - in short, from reality - as the rest. Of course, you could say that you don't care about other people and that they're not being coerced to play against you. That may be true, but then why do you want their money and the goods and the services that they produce if you don't value their root: human intelligence?

What? If I rationally decided to play the lotto and somehow won, it means that I don't value human intelligence? I should feel guilty about having a large sum of money land in my laps because of sheer dumb luck? Why?

What if by some random luck I inherited a billion dollars from a rich distant relative? Should I feel guilt over the fact that I've done nothing to earn this money? Accepting money that arrived by luck means I don't respect human intelligence? How is that?

When I play the lottery, I'm not trying to beat anybody else. I know that it's based on luck, and I want to get lucky. Whether or not I am good at something is irrelevant to that decision. And honestly, winning the lotto doesn't mean you aren't good at anything -- it just means you get a shit load of money through sheer luck. And more importantly, why does it matter if I have contributed anything to anyone around me by winning the lotto? And why wouldn't I want this money?

When you gamble, all that occurs is a transfer of wealth. If you're going to stand for free markets and individual rights and denounce the government when engages in massive transfers of wealth, don't use what increasingly little freedom we have convincing people that it's in their interest to risk having it occur voluntarily.

Um. Yeah and when I sell something, there is a transfer of wealth too. So? Oh I see, because the buyer gets something in return. Well when you gamble, you're basically paying money for something too -- a chance at more money. Whether that chance is worth it is for you to decide, hopefully rationally. We don't need to convince people of doing anything.

Your problem here is that you don't think that people are capable of rationally deciding for themselves. The fact is, just about everybody can and should think rationally for themselves. If they do think rationally, great. If they don't, they suffer the consequences. In other words, it is not the fault of the Lotto (or any other gambling tool) that some people abuse it irrationally.

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Okay getting back on Michael Vick. This is a video from ESPN.com on Roy Jones Jr.'s take on the Michael Vick situation.

Now, a couple of interesting things he said (and I paraphrase):

1. Michael Vick is crucified basically because he is a high profile athlete. (Probably true)

2. It is wrong that people are placing his freedom and his career over the death of animals. (Agreed)

3. Roy Jones admitted that he used to watch cock fights -- and the reason for that is he found it interesting the way the birds fought, and he was able to bring some of the lessons he saw into his own fighting style. (Personally I think it's a valid reason, and if you've ever watched the way he fought, there certainly seem to be some elements of it)

4. Roy Jones claims that he was okay with cock fights, but he couldn't stomach dog fights, especially when it gets down to the actual killing blows -- the reason being that he consider dogs a higher form of animal. (I have the same feelings)

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1. Michael Vick is crucified basically because he is a high profile athlete. (Probably true)

Sure, his actions have resulted in tons of media attention, but that's totally irrelevant. Vick doesn't deserve any less moral condemnation simply because lots of people know about and judge what he's done abhorrent. Similarly, the fact that Ward Churchill's academic frauds were brought to light due to media furor over his tenure-protected awful comments about the victims of 9/11 doesn't mean that the investigation of that academic fraud was somehow unjust -- as so many of his defenders claimed. The amount or source of the attention that some wrong receives is totally irrelevant to the proper judgment of that wrong.

2. It is wrong that people are placing his freedom and his career over the death of animals. (Agreed)

Michael Vick shouldn't be imprisoned for what he did, but he has ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to a career. He has no right to play in the NFL. He has no right to endorsements from corporations. He has no right to associate with -- let alone demand money from -- people disgusted by his acts of sadistic cruelty to Man's Best Friend. He ruined his own career. He has no one to blame but himself for that.

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Sure, his actions have resulted in tons of media attention, but that's totally irrelevant. Vick doesn't deserve any less moral condemnation simply because lots of people know about and judge what he's done abhorrent. Similarly, the fact that Ward Churchill's academic frauds were brought to light due to media furor over his tenure-protected awful comments about the victims of 9/11 doesn't mean that the investigation of that academic fraud was somehow unjust -- as so many of his defenders claimed. The amount or source of the attention that some wrong receives is totally irrelevant to the proper judgment of that wrong.

That's precisely the point I am arguing against. Since animal have no rights, it CANNOT be considered immoral to kill them. The most you can say is that his actions may infer something about his character. You can make judgments on what his actions infer, but what he actually did, bottom line, is not immoral and certain deserves no jail time.

And frankly I do think that there are more important issues than a man killing a few dogs.

Michael Vick shouldn't be imprisoned for what he did, but he has ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to a career. He has no right to play in the NFL. He has no right to endorsements from corporations. He has no right to associate with -- let alone demand money from -- people disgusted by his acts of sadistic cruelty to Man's Best Friend. He ruined his own career. He has no one to blame but himself for that.

I absolutely disagree. Why would Vick lose his RIGHT to a career for dog fighting? Like I said he has not done anything that is actually immoral. He can not possibly lose ANY rights. Now, the NFL and his corporate sponsors may not want to associate themselves within him on commercial grounds, but certainly they have the RIGHT to do so if they want to, just as Vick has to right to accept if opportunities offer.

There are only two things I agree with amongst what you said. Yes, he has no right to demand money from people disgusted by his acts. But then again, I don't think anybody has a right to demand money from the unwilling. And yeah, he ruined his own career -- but ONLY because he did something very distasteful, and not because he has done something immoral.

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That's precisely the point I am arguing against. Since animal have no rights, it CANNOT be considered immoral to kill them. The most you can say is that his actions may infer something about his character. You can make judgments on what his actions infer, but what he actually did, bottom line, is not immoral and certain deserves no jail time.

First, morality is not exhausted -- not even remotely -- by considerations of rights. It would be immoral for me to lie to my mother, cheat on my husband, and tell nasty stories about my best friend beind her back -- even though I violate no rights in doing so and deserve no state punishment. (If you disagree with that point, please say so explicitly, as it's presumed context on an Objectivist discussion board.)

Second, no principle -- certainly no principle of Objectivism -- states that an object must have rights in order for a person to be justly declared immoral for treating it in some way. A person who delights in the burning of great works of literature and philosophy should be condemned, for example, even if those books are entirely his property. He's acting in a way that's contrary to the requirements of life -- just as is the person who takes pleasure in the sadistic torture of dogs for sport.

Third, all judgments of character are based on inferences from action. If I infer something bad about your character from some action, then that action must be bad as well. It would be wrong (and bizarre) to infer that you're a bad person due to a disposition to act in a perfectly moral way. However, if you're not sure of the morality of some action, but you notice that it results in the cultivation of dangerous, anti-life dispositions like sadism, then those actions are themselves immoral and worthy of condemnation. (By way of contrast, no such dispositions need be cultivated via medical experimentation on animals.)

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The way I'd put it is he has the right to pursue a career,

And that would be appropriate. Michael Vick would still have a right to pursue a career with the NFL, but they would retain the right to tell him to pack sand. To say that he had a right to a career, say an NFL career, would encroach on the rights of those who own the NFL.

Past that, I think Dianah nails the morality issue.

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