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8 November, 2007

Negative intelligence

Oh dear.  National Lottery scratchcards have had to be withdrawn because purchasers were too innumerate to know whether they'd won.

The objective was to find the lower temperature of two printed on the card; given the winter theme, this meant the more negative of two figures.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't.

"I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it.

"I think Camelot are giving people the wrong impression - the card doesn't say to look for a colder or warmer temperature, it says to look for a higher or lower number. Six is a lower number than 8. Imagine how many people have been misled."

Then again, as a commenter on the Guardian's republished article observes, one probably shouldn't expect much from someone who buys scratchcards.

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