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Schrodinger’s Deal (or No Deal)

Written By: Gary on March 27, 2006 2 Comments

I love Deal or No Deal they offer people money and people constantly turn it down. It’s kinda funny actually giving away free money.

What really happens is they have 26 briefcases with money in it from one cent to on million dollars (semi-evenly increments randomly placed) you pick a briefcase which is now “yours”. You then pick other cases to removed them from play, obviously whatever you pick is not in your case, then every so often they offer you money to “buy” your briefcase. The more big numbers left the higher they offer you, they don’t want you to walk out with $1,000,000. The numbers they offer you are often statistically sound, if it’s down to two cases they generally offer you somewhere in the middle. When it’s a half dozen cases it’s pretty scattered but I can still guess pretty close as to the offer.

People really make bonehead moves though. They’ve got five low numbers and one high number and they keep opening cases. Yes, it drives the price up but if you hit the one case you lose! And they generally get too greedy. Or they keep going and then they chicken out and take the money when they were offered way more the previous turn.

The weird part is you never see anyone get the $1,000,000. Why you ask? Because if it’s down to two case $0.01 and $250,000 and they offer you $125,000 are you really going to say no deal when you might only get a penny? Maybe if you have two cases and it’s $250,000 and $500,000 (offering you $375,000) you might take the chance since you’re a big winner either way (but statistically it’s still only $250,000 difference either way).

I’ve still got a few more things so read on (I haven’t even discussed Schrodinger yet, nor the fact that it’s not really your case).


Is it really “your case”, it’s purely psychological, you could just leave them all up on the stage and just ignore one and that one would be “yours” but you don’t have it near to you. I think the only time I’ve seen it down to to cases (of a reasonable amount) they actually offer for you to switch your case.

Now the Schrodinger’s Case issue which is why I’m posting this (in addition to my frustration with bonehead players) I’ll assume you don’t know who Schrodinger is and why every geeky scientist on TV names their cat “Schrodinger”. You stick a cat in box (in a unobservable soundproof lead-lined box, etc.), with a poison gas in it that every half-hour their is a 50/50 chance the poison gas get released (this equals instant death). The question after a half-hour is the cat dead or alive. Here’s the kicker: since you can’t actually observer it and no one knows what’s happened the cat is actually both dead and alive (not have of each). Yes, I know it’s insane but until you actually observe it, it’s actually both (that’s the paradox). It’s a basic principal of Quantum physics and I can’t explain it (the original hypothetical experiment dealt with radioactive isotopes anf half-lifes and other complicated things) I tried to uncomplicate it. I’m not even going to mention that at this point the wave-function collapses and that in all likelihood we split into two different universes, one with dead cat and one with a live one.

But the question is: if no one know what’s in the case (say they were put in randomly and blindfolded) could there be a million dollars and one dollar in it at the same time. So that you actually don’t know what’s in the case until you look? Wouldn’t the same be for all the cases? Can we influence what’s in the case by having cheerleader’s cheer? By yelling “Woo Ya!”? Or by praying? Or does it just doesn’t matter and you sould just start with case one and work your way up the list when choosing?

Oh, and my last weird thought for the day: There are 26 cases, not a very normal number for this sort of thing, but it is the number of letters in the alphabet, why aren’t they numbered A-Z?

Here’s more Schrödinger’s cat.

FYI – Howie makes a great host!

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2 Responses to “Schrodinger’s Deal (or No Deal)”

  1. Cat. says on: 28 March 2006 at 5:21 pm

    Just a quick FYI: my niece named her cat Schrodinger about 8 years ago. She’s now an astrophysicist, freshly “PhD’d.” And I still don’t understand how the cat can be dead and alive at the same time.

    But I agree with you about Deal or No Deal, 100%.

  2. John says on: 21 March 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks for your comment on my blog about the same topic, Gary! Oh – we only have 22 boxes in the British version… smaller audiences mean smaller budgets I guess! :)

    John

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