Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks: The Science, Psychology & Philosophy of Gambling

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To Gamble or not to Gamble: is there a Question?

Here’s another paradox: if gambling, ingrained as it is in the human psyche, manifests itself so ubiquitously through time and across cultures, why have so many so often considered it to be deviant? In addition to the secular arguments that gambling is a tax on the poor and the stupid, or more historical ones presenting it as a distraction from more noble and socially beneficial pursuits, much of this objection has been moral, and more specifically religious, in origin. Whilst God made man in his own image, he has become inherently corruptible through sin: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. For its detractors, gambling encapsulates most, if not all, of those. To make right the wrongs, condemnation and prohibition from a higher authority, whether religious or political, is usually the preferred medicine. And throughout, the facts about how humans actually behave are retrofitted to match prescribed theories of how it is believed human beings ought to behave. I want to abandon this top-down philosophical jamming of a square peg into a round hole. I will endeavour to investigate the social and evolutionary explanations for why so many people, particularly men, like to gamble in one form or another, and why they are not necessarily bad for doing so.

Next: The Three Rs: Risk, Reward and Rationality