Gambling across borders

A blog about the productive life of risk

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Should we train ourselves in risk intelligence by learning from gamblers?

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In a Wall Street Journal article, Dylan Evans argues that risk intelligence is higher in certain types of personalities than in others. Namely, there are people more able to predict – in numerical terms – events and trends in realms such as international relations, economics, public health and technology. Majority of us, the article claims, often either overestimate or underestimate: our own abilities as well as outside circumstances.

However, all is not lost.

Risk intelligence is not a fixed value we are born with. We are told we can learn from gamblers: who ‘keep accurate and detailed records of their earnings and losses and regularly review strategies in order to learn from their mistakes’.

I am intrigued by the very concept of risk intelligence.

It is interesting how, over time and with varying social trends, different types of intelligence have been introduced as necessary for personal and social success. It was first emotional intelligence, an upgrade from the basic IQ, followed by a strong focus on social intelligence and the ability to connect. Risk intelligence is the next big thing – a precondition to survive and thrive in the age of uncertainty. Here, just like in the overall strategy of gambling regulation and liberalisation, risk has become an individual responsibility: risk intelligence then must be our only tool.

Can we really learn from gamblers?

Reference to the way gamblers learn from their winnings and losses mostly depict poker-players’ behaviour. Majority of them would, however, strongly argue they are NOT gamblers. I am told by my poker-playing informants that the skill of risk assessment can indeed be learned, but ‘it has nothing to do with chance or uncertainty’. On the other hand, psychologists who work with problem gamblers in my field tell me that poor risk assessment is one of the biggest indicators of uncontrollable behaviour. One of them said: ‘if someone believes they can win the roulette by betting on their lucky number, they have no idea about what risk they are taking – they are gamblers.’


Written by Andrea Pisac

May 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Posted in News

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