When Voltaire, the greatest joke of the Age of Reason, wrote about his visit to the London Stock Exchange, he noticed that people from all walks of life coexist in the noisy marketplace. This confirmed his belief that moneyIt is not believing in something that cannot be controlled that can bring people together. And what better way to find a practical application to this philosophical theory than to bring a group of friends together to cheat the lottery.
Background music for you as you read the rest of this story.
Over the centuries there has only been one successful way to rig a lottery – cold, hard mathematics. So it’s good that Voltaire met a mathematician named Charles-Marie de La Condamine in his 30s. During the same period, a state lottery was held in Paris in which districts issued tickets to buy municipal bonds to revive the economy. And since Voltaire had some money problems as a dandy, de La Condamine confided in him that the French government had made one fatal error::
If you were to buy the cheapest bonds in town, the prize money would be big enough that you could bet on any combination and still earn a ton of francs.
As a rationalist, Voltaire de La Condamine and eleven of his least scrupulous friends rationally rounded up to pool their money and play the system. And before anyone could scream “sabotage”! (because this word was not invented still) and close the lottery, Voltaire and his math gang had cleaned up Paris for 7.5 million francsThat would be worth well over $ 40 million today.