In 1959, the British scientist and novelist Charles Percy Snow gave the Rede Lecture (at Cambridge University) entitled The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, in which developed a gaming metaphor as an excellent way to remember the laws of thermodynamics.
More popularly, this parody of the laws of thermodynamics in terms of someone playing a game is attributed to the American poet Irwin Allen Ginsberg, from whom the theorem gets its name. Put simply, in gambling, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Ginsberg’s theorem is a light-hearted take on gambling, betting and investing, but it has a serious and relevant significance. The fact is that for the vast majority of players these activities do represent zero-sum games where the dynamics of the system make it highly unfeasible, if not quite outright impossible, to beat it. Two questions then arise: why is it so hard to have a free lunch and what makes so many people believe it is possible?
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