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gambler's fallacy

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


L ogic Also called the Monte Carlo fallacy. Two fallacious ways of reasoning starting from the same premise. The initial premise is that a particular given outcome has occurred many times in succession. From here one person infers that the same outcome will occur again next time; and the other infers that the opposite outcome will occur next time. Both are wrong because the system does not have a memory. A coin will not come up heads or tails because it has come up heads many times in succession. The probability of past outcomes does not affect the probability of a future event. It will neither increase nor decrease, but remains the same on each occasion. “The simplest available explanation of the prevalence of the ‘gambler's fallacy’ is that it seems from a quite legitimate use of the counterfactualizable conception of probability in contexts where it is not assumed, or not taken as established, that pure chance is operating.” L. Cohen , The Dialogue of Reason ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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