Chapter Three: Tweaking (Altering Society by a Sequence of Tiny Changes
The term ‘gaming establishment’ is another term for ‘casino.’ Casinos make money by playing games. The owners set up the games so that the casinos will win with mathematical certainty. If you play at casinos, you are playing games that are designed to be unwinnable for players.
In most cases, the casino’s advantage comes from an analysis of random chance events and a calculation of payoff odds that guarantees the casino makes money, as long as the event being bet on is truly random. For example, in the game of craps (a dice game played with two six-sided die), you can make a bet that you will roll the number 6 before you will roll a 7. If you do, you will ‘win’ the bet and be paid at the rate of $7 for every $6 bet. (In other words, if you roll a 6 before you roll a 7, you will get $7 given to you and will still have the your $6 bet ‘working.’ It will remain ‘working’ until you ask for it back or roll a 7. If you roll a 7, the casino will take your $6.)
There are 6 possible roll combinations out of a total of 36 that will give you a 7, but only 5 possible combinations that will give you a 6. (Link to source.) This means that the odds of rolling a 7 over a 6 are 6 to 5 (or 1.2 to 1). The casino pays you at the lower rate of 7 to 6 (or 1.16 to 1). If the die roll is truly random, the casino will pay out, on average, 96.66⅔ cents for each $1 bet. The players may be ahead for a while over the short term because it takes time for the casino’s advantage to average out. But over a long enough period of time, the casino always makes money on this wager, which means that, over a long enough period of time, the players always lose money. It is a mathematical certainty.
The game is rigged against the players. The only way people can avoid losing money on this game is to not play it.
The same is true with almost all of the games in the casino. (There is one exception, that we will look at shortly.) Mathematicians calculate the odds of a random event happening. They then calculate the payoffs needed for the casino to make money and set the payoffs accordingly. Gambling houses have come up with thousands of games based on this formula. With only one real exception (discussed below), they are set up so that the casino will win (meaning the players will lose) with mathematical certainty.
How to Cheat Casinos
The only real exception happens to be the most popular game played in casinos, called ‘vingt-et-un’ in most of the world, and ‘blackjack’ in the United States. People who understand this game can reverse the odds and create a mathematical certainty of making money.
The reason this is possible is that blackjack, unlike the other popular games, is not a true ‘game of chance.’ It doesn’t use a totally random draw of cards. Each round of game play only involves a few cards (possibly as few as 4) and dealers don’t shuffle the cards after every hand. Instead, they put the played cards into a ‘discard’ pile, and continue dealing off of the original deck. Players can see the cards as they are played so they know which chards have been played and know these cards are no longer in the deck. They can keep track of the played cards (the common term is ‘count cards’), then use betting strategies that will give a mathematical advantage to them, based on the specific cards in the part of the deck that has not yet been played.
Because the events involved are not truly random (future cards depend on past events, namely the cards that have already been played), it is not possible for casinos to create a mathematical certainty of winning. As a result, people can beat this game and turn the advantage to the player.
Many people have evaluated betting strategies based on various different methods of card counting. In some cases they have used high-speed computers to build algorithms that give them mathematical certainty of winning, provided they count right and bet right. The math is quite complex, but these people have published their findings and you can find many books that give you the exact mathematical advantage for the player with various strategies (look on Amazon for ‘wining at blackjack’). Even the best strategies give the player only tiny advantages, but even a tiny advantage can add up to big winnings over a long enough period of play.
It wasn’t until very recently that people began to take time to calculate ways to reverse the odds. People have played ‘vingt-et-un’ as a parlor game with small bets for at least 600 years, but large-scale gaming that would allow people to make large amounts of money by analyzing betting strategies didn’t become reality until March 31, 1931. On that day, Nevada legislature legalized casino gambling. People could open large-scale commercial casinos and take bets from all comers. Now, people who understood card counting could go from casino to casino, making money on their card play.
The early casino owners were all ‘sole proprietors,’ meaning they were small business people who put up their personal savings to fund the casinos. This was a result of a Nevada law that only allowed people of ‘good moral and social standing’ to operate casinos. People who wanted licenses had to appear personally in front of the state gaming board to prove they fell into this category. Because anyone who could meet this requirement could own and operate a casino, the owners came from all walks of life and all different backgrounds. Few mathematicians are attracted to this field. As a general rule, they didn’t understand the points discussed above and didn’t realize it was possible for players to turn the odds of this one game against the casinos. Players figured it out, however. In early days of casinos, a lot of casinos lost money on their blackjack operations, because they didn’t understand the tricks of the game.
The rules for casinos changed dramatically in 1972, when the richest man on Earth at that time, Howard Hughes, had his lobbyists draft a new law called the ‘Corporate Gaming Act’ and push it through the Nevada legislature. (The sidebar explains why he did this.)
After the law passed, corporations moved in to the field. There is a lot of money in casinos, and corporations go where the money is. Corporate researchers determined that they could a great deal of money from the casino business if they built very large and expensive casinos. (These mega casinos didn’t exist in the pre-corporation days because proprietors couldn’t raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build them. Forensic History explains the special advantages corporations have over proprietors in raising money for large projects.) The larger the casinos, the more money they would make, both in total earnings and earnings per square foot. (This happens because of something economists call ‘economies of scale;’ in some businesses, large scale enterprises are more efficient than small scale businesses.) The corporations began to invest incredible amounts of money in resort hotel casinos that were larger than any resorts that had ever existed.
The corporations ran the casinos using scientific business principles. The managers soon realized that their blackjack divisions were not always producing profits and hired consultants to help them figure out why. The consultants figured out the card counting systems. (Many of the people who consulted on these projects wrote books about how to beat the casinos; again, search for ‘how to win in blackjack’ on Amazon to find their work.)
The casino owners had to do something.
But what could they do? They couldn’t simply stop offering the game of blackjack. It was the most popular game their casinos offered. Many gamblers came to Nevada specifically to play this game. If casinos didn’t offer this game, their customers would stop coming. Their business model depended on blackjack: they had to keep offering this game.
But they would have to change the game, or the corporate casinos wouldn’t be able to make money and pay dividends to shareholders.
They decided to alter the way this ancient game was played to restore the advantage to the casinos.
They couldn’t change it by much, or very quickly, or their customers would protest and stop coming to their establishments. They had to be crafty.
The first change involved switching from one 52 card deck to ‘two deck blackjack.’ To make sure that their players wouldn’t object, the casinos started adding in special perks like paying 1.5 times the bet for a ‘natural’ blackjacks (ace and face card on first two cards), or allowing gamblers to double their bets in certain cases that the old rules didn’t allow. Once the players adjusted to the new game rules, the casinos rolled back the perks. Then, they could change the game again, by adding additional decks. (Most casinos now use 5 decks.) Whenever players reacted to the changes by reducing their play, the casinos would add in perks to get the game play back to previous levels. The casinos also had many other anti-counting protocols that they added in over time. (For example, they would deal a large number of cards off of the deck face down so no one could see them, both when beginning the game and at various intervals; they would also start shuffling the deck when it was half way finished.) They used perks to offset the changes until the players became used to them, then rolled back the perks and started again.
In the meantime, they evicted anyone they thought might be counting cards. They trained their personnel to recognize the common betting strategies for card counters. When they saw these patterns, they reported them to security. The security officers would then ask the patrons to leave. (Many rumors persist that card counters were treated very roughly and often beat up to discourage them from returning. Whether or not these rumors were true, the casinos had an interest in making poeple think card counters would be physically harmed.)
When casinos started using electronic techniques, they programmed their computers to recognize the strategies of card counters. The computers were much better at this than humans. They notified security and the patron was evicted. Now, casinos have facial recognition software and scan the faces of all patrons, looking for faces in their databases of known card counters. If the computers recognize card counters, they notify security to escort these people out of the casinos. Because all casinos have an interest in preventing the practice of card counting, the casinos share their databases and known card counters are not allowed in any casino that shares the information. (Get caught counting cards in a casino in Biloxi Mississippi and you will probably not be able to enter the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo.)
Technically, it is possible to beat the game. But the game has changed to the extent that it isn’t worth the effort to try. It takes a lot of time to memorize the techniques needed to effectively count cards. If you use them, you will be caught before you have made enough to even cover the value of the time you spent learning the techniques. We know that the casino’s efforts to deal with card counting have been effective because the casinos still offer blackjack in their casinos: they would not do this if they didn’t know they would make money on it.
Beating Games (In General)
We can learn a lot about the idea of gaming in general, and the practice of changing games that don’t suit one of the players, from casinos.
For example, games that appear at first to be ‘no-win’ games are not always truly no-win games. In some cases, they can be won. We learn that players who understand the details of the games can have better odds than players who don’t know the way the games are played. We can not only learn that it is possible to beat games that are designed to be no-win games, we can learn what must be done to make this happen: If we understand the incentives behind the rules of the game, we can know exactly where the game designers have had to place weaknesses.
Let’s consider how this information applies to the ‘game’ that was in progress on Earth when the current generation of people were born: Like casino game designers, the organize and run this game have to follow certain rules. They have no choice. Nations must remain competitive militarily, or they will be ‘conquered.’ If they are conquered, the game scoring chits (the money and ‘things that can be traded for money’ like land) are likely to be divided among top players in the conquering nation. Military necessity will eventually require that nations create certain structures that the people who want to change the game can exploit to make the game work differently. The existing authorities of the nations may not want to allow these structures to exist. But they have no choice. They have to compete militarily, they need the structures to do this, so they have to do more than allow the structures, they have to actually encourage them.
One example involves the ideas of ‘cities.’
Very early in the development of nations, rulers realized that armies with weapons made of steel had great advantages over armies without steel. The more steel weapons their armies had, the greater the advantages. They needed steel. Not just a little bit: the more they had, the greater advantages they had.
Large-scale steel production started about 5,000 years ago. To make large amounts of steel, a large number of people with very specialized skills have to come together in one place. They need enormous amounts of raw materials, teamsters to bring the materials to a central locations, construction workers to make the smelters, steel mills, and weapons factories, for example. If these people were spending their time making weapons, they wouldn’t have time to meet their own basic needs, so they would need people to bring in food and distribute and cook it; they would need even more construction workers to build homes for the workers, and more workers to make clothing, bring in fuel, and provide other necessities of life. They would need a large number of people living together in the same area. They would need ‘cities.’
Before cities, feudal sovereigns had almost total control over people’s behavior. The sovereigns owned the land and everything it produced, including the food. They could provide food to people who complied with their rules (including the rule that they work a certain amount) and deny food to others. If people act in ways that in any way bothers the sovereigns, the sovereigns can have other people who work for them (their armies or police) execute the violators.
In cities, people have to be able to get the necessities of life without having to go through processes the rulers first approve. (Generally, the rulers will simply buy the weapons. The people in the cities will have to work out a system that causes the weapons to get made and the weapons-makers to get paid.) They can’t directly control all aspects of the behavior of people who live in cities. Normally, rulers would prefer to have total control of everyone’s behavior. To have steel weapons, they have to give up some of this control. They face constraints and limits. People who understand these constraints can take advantage of them.
We can see that the people in cities understood this and took full of it by the artifacts we see in cities: Virtually all cities in Afro-Eurasia that existed during feudal times have enormous walls around them. These walls are very clear evidence that the people in the cities took advantage of their freedom from feudal control and became independent entities, the kind of entities historians now call ‘city states.’ As independent entities, they could sell their weapons and other goods to the highest bidders (not just to the sovereigns if nearby kingdoms) and make enormous profits. Obviously, the sovereigns leaders didn’t want this to happen, but they had no choice: they had constraints.
Example 2: Universities
In the late 1,000s, Chinese inventors invented gunpowder. Within a few centuries, they had very complex weapons that took advantage of this new material, including rockets, grenades, bombs, and cannon. In the 1200s, Chinese conquerors with these weapons were able to conquer land in other areas. They were eventually able to gain control of large parts of the Persian empire.
Some Persian leaders adapted: they started building gunpowder factories themselves. They also started building schools that would train people in skills needed to develop high-quality rockets and other gunpowder-related weapons. They eventually designed superior weapons. Using these weapons, they were able to drive the Chinese (called the ‘Mongols’ in history books) from the Persian and Arabian lands.
The Persians and their allies (generally meaning all Moslem people) were then at war on another front as well, with the Christians. Before the Moslems had gunpowder, their wars with Christians had not been going well and the Christians had gained control of large amounts of land in North Africa and the Middle East. (This included the land that both Christians and Moslems consider to be fundamental holy places, in and around Jerusalem).
With rockets, bombs, cannon, and other advanced weapons, the Persians and their allies were able to remove the Christians from North Africa fairly easily. They began to threaten the land of Europe.
The Christians had a very repressive regime at that time, with all non-religious education under a strict ban, with the death penalty for people who were found to violate the ban. This put the Christians at a great disadvantage: You can’t learn the best way to structure the propellant cylinders to make rockets from the Bible. To learn these things, the Christians had to legalize education and then allow schools. In fact, since they were already dealing from a position of weakness, they had to go much farther than this: they had to begin using church money to build schools and they had to encourage people to learn the skills these schools taught, including how to build better weapons than their enemies had. As we saw in Forensic History, over the next few centuries, the Christians built some extremely high-quality schools, many of which are still in operation today. They poured funds into research and—within a few centuries—built some of the largest and best-equipped militaries that had ever existed.
They allowed people the freedom to use their own minds. They actually encouraged this. The leaders had resisted such changes for many centuries. Uneducated people are far easier to control than educated ones. The rulers would have preferred to have people follow the leaders blindly and do what they are told.
But they had no choice: their enemies had rockets, cannon, bombs, muskets, and grenades. They couldn’t defend themselves against these enemies if they only had swords and knives. They had constraints on their behavior and, as we saw in Forensic History, the people eventually took advantage of these constraints. Slowly, people have built on the knowledge base and transferred rights and powers from sovereigns to the people. Sovereigns lost a great deal of their power and authority when they were forced to build and encourage universities and other institutions of higher education.
Example 3: Corporations
On December 31, 1600, the British government created the first ‘joint stock corporation,’ the East India Company. This company had ‘shares’ that could be bought and sold, so anyone with money could own it.
Corporations are powerhouses that have great abilities to alter the realities of nations and diminish the authority and power of sovereigns and other rulers. They can raise massive amounts of money (many corporations today are far larger than most nations today) so they can build things that, formerly, only nations could afford to build. They last forever so they can build on past successes and organize. They control many things that sovereigns and sovereign administrations desperately need—like money and weapons—so they can manipulate sovereigns and sovereign administrations to meet the needs of the corporations, even if the corporations need entirely different thing than the sovereigns and sovereign administrations.
This new kind of corporation had incredible power. (Corporations gained far more power after several corporations worked together to take over a part of North America and create new rules where corporations were ‘persons’ under the law with rights that human persons did not have; Forensic History explains these events in detail.) The people who made the rules may not have wanted to have organizations that had these powers. But they had no choice: The nations that sponsored the new kinds of corporations could build weapons and other tools of war far better than nations that did not. The rulers had constraints. They had to have corporations to compete in war.
We, the members of the human race and inhabitants of the planet Earth, can think of the above tools (cities, universities, and corporations) as tools. We can understand that these tools came to exist as a result of military necessity, not the desires of the people who had gotten into a position to make rules. As the sidebar above illustrates, it is possible to use these tools to help us, the members of the human race, meet our needs and goals, if we understand them well enough.
Example 4: The Internet
The fourth example is perhaps the most powerful illustration of tools that the gamers have been forced to create that empowers the people who are currently at the mercy of the rules that have been in place for thousands of years: the internet.
The United States government exploded ‘Ivy Mike,’ the first ‘thermonuclear’ (three stage nuclear bomb) on October 31, 1952. Immediately, communications systems crashed, not just at the site of the blast, but may thousands of miles away.
The government eventually realized the reason: the bomb had emitted a powerful electromagnetic pulse that generated an inductive current in the telephone lines. This current was far greater than the design current for these lines, so they melted. (In many cases, the melting wires were hot enough to catch the insulation on fire and many telephone switching stations burned to the ground.) The corporations that conducted the blast test for the government realized that the government would absolutely need a new communication system.
They had their people draw up proposals and, because of the urgency, got the ‘Arapanet’ project funded a few months after the Ivy Mike test. Arapnet was the prototype for the internet.
To be effective, the new communication system would have to have multiple pathways (as many as possible) which would be made of different materials and using as many different protocols as possible. They decided the new system should have an ‘open architecture,’ meaning that the military would not build the communication interfaces or even the pathways: users would build these things to the user’s specifications. With a potentially unlimited number of interfaces and pathways, all made differently, enemies would be unlikely to take everything down at the same time. As long as there were any pathways for communication, the military messages could get through, and they could continue to fight, even after a nuclear attack by an enemy. To make sure they had the maximum number of pathways and interfaces, the planners would have to make the system usable by other nations, so people all around the world could add pathways and interfaces. (Remember, the United States is only 4% of the world, yet has military objectives all over the world. It needs a global system.) Governments, corporations, and individuals all want to use the internet for different things, so they created millions of different interfaces. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone—even the people who created it—to effectively censor the internet. (Note: Forensic History provides a very detailed description of the background behind the internet and the way it works.)
The game managers knew that this kind of system would make effective censorship impossible. They use the control of information as a tool to control the way people think. With the internet, they wouldn’t be able to use this tool. But, just as the Christians had to allow universities in the 1300s, and Europe had to allow corporations in the 1600s, the United States had to allow and actually facilitate the creation of this tool. It was militarily necessary. They could not afford not to create a tool that they needed in order to fight the new types of war that became possible on the first of November, 1952.
There is some irony here: The internet was built in order to make a prolonged nuclear war practical. But it facilitates free information flows that never were possible before. These flows of information can be used—together with the other tools that the game managers created to advance their games—to change the game so that the nuclear wars the internet was designed to facilitate do not happen.
This is not going to be easy. It is not like we can just wave a wand and take advantage of all of these tools. The game planers and managers are adapting the game as you read this, in an attempt to find ways to keep their control over the minds of the people intact. But they have created a tool that makes this job infinitely more difficult than it was before.
The Other Side of the Coin
We, the members of the human race, are the players in the big game now in progress all over the world. This game is essentially a no-win game, a Kobayashi Maru scenario. If we simply give up, and fall into game play in desperation, we can only lose. But if the game doesn’t suit us, we have other options. We don’t have to simply accept our lot and play the losing game. When the casinos found out that one of the key games that people wanted to play did not meet the needs of the casinos, they didn’t just give up and play the game that didn’t suit them. They didn’t give up and kill themselves either. They changed the game.
We were born onto a world where a game was already in progress and had been in progress for thousands of years in many parts of the world. The great majority of the people of the world have to play this game in order to stay alive. They have two great fears:
First, the game is going to destroy everything. Tomorrow, when they would have otherwise woken up, they will be dead and everything around them will be gone.
But that is actually a minor fear compared to their big fear: They are afraid that the game they depend on to keep them alive will suddenly end or change in a dramatic way that they can’t adjust to. They won’t be able to support their families anymore; they will lose their homes, their cars, their medical care, or the other things they need. Their greatest fear is not death for themselves and their families from a nuclear war, or the end of the human race from an environmental disaster.
Their greatest fear is change in the game.
They wish that the game were winnable, and pray that someday someone will figure out how to change the way it works, but their behavior shows that they really want everything to stay the same. They know how the system works, they have adapted to it, they depend on it, and they have allowed their minds to accept it.
This means that, if we want to change the game, we have to take a clue from the corporations that changed the game of blackjack: we have to be crafty. We have to find a way to change the game without affecting the people who depend on the game to stay alive. I am not going to try to make you think this is easy: if it were easy it would have been done a long, long time ago. It is very hard to change a game without the people intimately involved with the game objecting or fighting the change. I am only trying to say that this is possible. If we start from the right place (a full understanding of the way the game works and what differences in it would make it winnable—this is discussed in the next chapter), and we use all of the tools at our disposal (including universities, international corporations, and the internet, all created as a result of military pressures as shown above), and plan the changes carefully, we have a very real chance of making it work.
Books in this series
This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:
1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.
2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.
3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.
What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)
But is it possible to actually build them?
If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.
We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.
4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.
New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.
What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.
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