Here’s an astonishing thought, the lifespan of men (sorry women) was below 30 years for most of human existence. By 1920, and when you factor out births/deaths occurring before one year of age, it had reached the dizzy heights of 47. Yes 47! Wars might have been a factor there but that is the cold hard number…
Now let us enumerate the great thinkers and doers of all time and their ages at their deaths:
- Euclid, 70 or so (maybe 30 years more, we just don’t know)
- Plato, 80
- Socrates, 71
- Julius Caesar, 55 (despite being killed)
- Leonardo da Vinci, 67
- Ben Franklin, 84
- Winston Churchill, 90
- Henry Ford, 83
- Albert Einstein, 76
- Dwight Eisenhower, 78
- Ronald Reagan, 93
Unquestionably some (like JFK) met their end too soon, but that is the very point we are trying to make. The greatest men in global history from Euclid (lived between 300 BC and 200 BC) to now appeared to have had a long lifespan compared to most mortals. Does that not seem a little strange to you?
You may already know why. Do you remember that 17-year-old that was on the cusp of a cancer cure in the 1920’s? Or the guy that was at the cusp of the backwards jet propulsion thing that would have changed the world? (He died crossing the street in Atlanta Georgia, 1941).
So here is the rather obtuse point. Did the hugely well known ‘wizards’ above who lived such comparatively long lives only do so because they were famous? Let’s try another idea on for size… They were famous partially because they lived so long and therefore had the ability to get to their own goal line.
In either case good gamblers also live long, it’s no coincidence. Phil Bull, the professional gambler, racehorse owner and publisher, who founded Timeform may have lived through two World Wars but he almost made it to four-score (to coin a betting phrase) before meeting his maker.
And then there is Edward O. Thorp, who was born in Chicago in 1932 and is still on this earth now. Probably the greatest gambling mind the world has ever known, Thorp worked as a maths professor between 1959 and 1977 but when not educating students he developed computer simulation to devise the perfect blackjack strategy and he devised card-counting schemes to improve players’ odds. Proving his calculations worked in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas casinos he wrote the Blackjack bible, ‘Beat the Dealer’ which is the ultimate guide to card counting still used by amateurs and professional players today.
In 1961 Ed Thorp also developed the first wearable computer (together with Claude Shannon) and used it at the roulette and blackjack tables until it was banned in 1985. Other innovations include the ‘Thorp count’ in backgammon and much later he started using his knowledge on probability and statistics in the stock market, developing effective hedge fund techniques in the financial markets, making a fortune that is estimated to be $800 million.
Anyway, there is a thought that those things we so painstakingly learn go to the grave with us. The longer we last the more we can give. So be responsible, stay safe, wash your hands, and keep your distance!