Wandering Eye: Ben Carson's theory on the pyramids, the Ravens and paid patriotism, and more

Quartz re-blogs WUSA9's curious statistical finding in Washington, D.C.: Three big lottery winners—each of whom has won at least 100 times over the past eight years—are also quickie mart owners, dispensing lottery tickets all day on the job. Right away the station (with an assist from Johns Hopkins stats professor Dan Naiman) takes it into the realm of impossible statistics: the chances of three of the past eight years' top-five lottery winners all being lottery ticket vendors is "around the chance of getting heads in 33 consecutive coin flips." What does Quartz make of this? Cheating, of course. But a specific type of cheating involving algorithms and Ph.D.s. "This is not the first time lottery insiders have been suspected of fixing the results," Quartz says. "Earlier this year, a former head of computer security at the US Multi-State Lottery Association was found guilty of infecting the number generating computers with 'rootkit' software. He then bought a $13.4 million winning ticket." OK, everyone: Can we please dispense with the idea that the clerks or store owners are getting these tickets by "beating the lottery system"? Has no one at Quartz ever heard of money laundering? WUSA at least mentions it. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Staged reunions, giant flags, and other forms of military tributes at professional sporting events were, in fact, paid for by the Department of Defense, i.e. propaganda. The biggest recipient was the NFL—though all the major sports were awarded contracts—and, among pro football teams, your Baltimore Ravens were awarded $534,500, the fifth-largest amount of money, according to Deadspin. In all, DOD spent $9 million on "paid patriotism," which, as Deadspin points out, is a teeny-tiny sliver of its annual budget in the hundreds of billions. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will refund the money. God Bless America. (Brandon Weigel)

 

Buzzfeed has unearthed video of a 1998 commencement address in which Ben Carson, the famous Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who is now the leading nominee in the Republican presidential primary, says he believes the Egyptian pyramids were built by the biblical figure Jacob to store grain. They are not, he insists, tombs to the pharaohs, as just about every archaeologist and Egyptologist contends. How does he explain this? "[W]hen you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they'd have to be that way for various reasons." What about those who say aliens built them, Dr. Carson? "[S]cientists have said, 'Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that's how—' you know, it doesn't require an alien being when God is with you." OK then. (Brandon Weigel)

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