May. 12th, 2012

holdthesky: (Default)
This sounds like a construction from some economics paper, but it's actually an event which my grandmother used to attend.

Her church, which prohibited gambling and was generally down on ranking and the like, wanted to hold a bingo night for the old folk. Here's the system they came up with.

Each participant was to bring goods of a certain value and there were certain cultural conventions restricting the class of items which established that it was unlikely that an individual would have any strong preference for any one of them over another. These were then randomly permuted into a sequence of prizes. Each participant was then dealt a bingo card and balls were withdrawn. When "that's a bingo" the winner got the next prize in line. The balls were withdrawn until everyone had won (which has guaranteed finite and sensible termination). Everyone left with goods in the same quantity as which they had contributed; which, assuming all had gone well, they had strictly no preference compared to the goods they brought; and for which they had no preference over the winnings their co-players.

I can't help think that these church-going folk of the distant reaches of Lincolnshire were acting out something which was quite profound and also quite mad.

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