Ironic Onion

Contributed by
Dec 28, 2008

The Onion -- still funny, even though it's been around seemingly forever -- just put up a great "radio" news bit: "Jesus Answers Half The Prayers At Area Roulette Table" (one NSFW word in that).

As usual, it's dead-on satire by the Onion, with subtle skeptical layering in it. Brilliant!

But it's also a bit ironic. You see, the newscaster says that Jesus answered exactly one half of the prayers at a roulette table, making black win to spurn those who bet on red. However, the odds of winning on black are less than half; there are two green (0 and 00) slots on the wheel too. So out of the 38 slots, only 18 are black and 18 red. The odds of winning on black are therefore 18/38 = 47.4%, giving the house a slight edge when you bet on red or black.

So let me interpret the Onion 'cast as saying that during the course of the night, Jesus granted exactly half the prayers, so after, say, 500 spins of the wheel black won half the time, and red the other half. What about green? Statistically speaking, green should win twice out of every 38 times, or 26 times over the night. The odds of not seeing green, not once, in 500 spins are very low.

That would be evidence of one of two things: supernatural involvement, or the casino cheating. If the latter, well, too bad. If the former, and you can prove it, then you can win a lot more than a single roulette bet...

So, for those of you who are humor-impaired, yes I know that a) the Onion is satirical, and 2) the joke is that Jesus only answered the prayers of gamblers on a single bet. But I felt like writing about this topic, it encourages a little critical thinking, and educates people on the fine art of casino gambling. I'll note that I am lifetime in the black myself for casino gambling by almost a hundred dollars, so that makes me an expert.

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