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Han Solo and the Odds


At some point within the manly space that is the wingnutosphere, it became fashionable to talk about things like war with Iraq or the Surge in terms of long odds. The odds may be against us, the argument conventionally goes, but it (whatever “it” may be) is worth a try. Recall that the Surge was initially justified as “doubling down”, which pursued the gambling metaphor even further. One would almost come to believe that the value of a particular policy is inversely related to the likelihood that it will succeed…

I think that Han Solo is partially responsible. Recall:

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.
Han Solo: Never tell me the odds.

Indeed. While girly men and gay robots may think that a 1 in 3720 chance of success is a reason not to undertake a particular course of action, real men understand that high risk strategies are inherently manly, and thus valuable. Again, the “doubling down” argument is particularly notable, as doubling down in blackjack is typically done when the odds are heavily in your favor (holding 11 while the dealer shows a 6, for example), not when your position is weak (holding 16 while the dealer shows a 10, for instance). Somehow, and I think in part because of Han Solo, the basic logic of gambling has been inverted such that high risk, low reward strategies are preferable to low risk, high reward strategies.

I would dearly, dearly love to own a casino hosting a convention of conservative bloggers. Indeed, I think I can already see the outlines of the plot of Ocean’s 14…

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