How Did Derren Brown Predict The Lottery?

Earlier this week, Derren Brown gave the illusion of predicting the lottery numbers before they were revealed in real time on national TV in Britain.  Here’s that original video in case you missed it:

Now here is his bullshit explanation of how he did it.

Why his explanation makes no sense:

He took inspiration from the Wisdom of Crowds theory, which essentially says that decisions made by lots of people are better than those by individuals.

The theory tells how a crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged.

But last night maths experts poured scorn on Brown’s explanation saying that the whole thing was ‘bluff’ and ‘nonsense’.

Professor of Pure Mathematics at University of Oxford Roger Heath-Brown said: ‘This is not a good strategy for picking the lottery. But I can understand why some people might think it is a plausible strategy.

‘Mathematically it is complete rubbish. It is a bluff on his part. He is doing it some other way that is clear. But he is trying to produce what looks like a plausible rationale for producing numbers.’

The academic said it was wrong to draw a comparison with the ox experiment as people in that case had some evidence to go on.

David Spiegelhalter, professor of public understanding of risk at  University of Cambridge said: ‘There is a difference between guessing between the weight of a cake compared with guessing lottery balls, which is unguessable.

It’s puzzling that someone who does great services of exposing people’s gullibility and the techniques by which frauds dupe them (see here or here for just two of many examples available on youtube) does a trick where he not only performs an illusion but lets people feel like they are in on the secret and have them leave saying ridiculously superstitious things like that simply believing they could predict numbers can make them do it successfully.

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