Doctor: Did you know you can go to the racetrack and, for as little or as much money as you want, you can bet on any of several horses to win the race?
Patient: Sounds simple enough. What do I get if I win?
Doctor: You get to live.
Patient: Um, OK. So what happens if I lose?
Doctor: If you lose, and I must tell you the odds are much greater that you will, you’ll die.
Patient: Doc, to be honest with you, I’m not sure this is a game I really want to play.
Doctor: I’m sorry, but it’s too late. You’re already playing. Even if you don’t place a bet, you will lose.
Patient: Well that pretty much sucks.
Doctor: You’re right. It does. But there’s more. None of the horses you can bet on has ever won a race. In fact, none of them are likely to even finish much less win. One horse has corporate sponsorship, but has yet to prove himself. Several others are in training, practicing for the big race, but nobody is very confident they can win. The rest of them are long shots.
Patient: Oh this game just keeps getting better and better. So what would you recommend I do?
Doctor: Legally speaking, I can only advise you to try betting on the officially sponsored horse. Perhaps you can do some research on the rest of the field. But ultimately, you’ll have to make up your own mind.
Patient: So you’re telling me that I’m playing this game for my life, whether I want to or not, that most of the horses I can bet on will probably lose, and that if I don’t place any bets at all, I will almost certainly die?
Doctor: Essentially, yes. Those are the stakes of the game.
Patient: I see. Well then, I guess I’ll have to go place a few bets.