My name is Andrew Bohnett, and I make roulette models of human behavior, such as gambling, betting and socializing. I like to think I’m just like every other guy on the planet who like to play the game. And while I often think of myself as a very, very rational person, there’s a really good argument that my brain is pretty good at doing things that we wouldn’t think are smart. Just because I’m trying to do something, doesn’t mean it should be easy.
I’m particularly interested in how humans handle the social world. You can think about it like an evolutionary game. Humans were smart enough to invent language, and some of those languages still use that strategy today. Some of the world’s smartest people believe in God, a deity that rules and controls human behavior.
There’s just not a lot we can do about it; but when you do something that’s so obviously hard, there’s a reason. It’s not just a case of ‘this is a human thing,’ it’s a case of things that are impossible to do. You don’t talk about doing a hand of cards. You don’t talk about playing roulette. You talk about having a social life and interacting with other people. And I’ve never seen the argument that is made for it.
Does gambling contribute to social problems?
There are lots of reasons people might gamble. But one of the biggest is that it’s fun, and it’s also exciting. Most people try to do things once in a while. They get off on playing in front of their friends or playing in front of other people. The argument for gambling is that it helps people deal with the fact that most of the time we just don’t care. Some people just can’t relate to doing something that has no long term goal. So when you get to something, it’s hard not to enjoy it.
The point about the game is that it’s not about the outcome. If the stakes are low enough, even if there’s no payoff, if you don’t win or lose a lot of money, you can still enjoy yourself because you feel you won. And that also extends to the social setting. If you’re at an open-air casino or a nightclub at lunch time, you don’t have to worry about other people’s judgment of your behavior. You can go right on enjoying yourself. And if you go into a casino, you don’t have that judgment.
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