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A group of M.I.T. students, after analyzing the results of the recent national draft lottery, have claimed that the drawing was not random and impartial.
Jay S. Kunin, one of the students, said that officials unintentionally forgot to mix the birthday capsules. "Because of this," he said, "individuals with birthdays to ward the beginning of the year were quite preferentially located" at the bottom of the lottery jar.
Kunin said that he and three other M.I.T. students who work at the Planetary Astronomy Laboratory observed a "large skewness" in the distribution of birthdates.
The group added up every draft number that occurs in a particular month, dividing that total by the number of days in the month.
"Assuming each month receieved a fairly even distribution of high and low numbers, the mean for each month should be around 183.5, which is one-half the number of days in a year," Kunin explained.
He conceded that because of the small sample size, a reasonable disparity in monthly averages could be expected. In fact, the average monthly draft number varied from 225.8 in March to 121.5 in December.
"What is unusual, however," Kunin said, "is that the six months with averages above the expected mean were the last six months of the year." The probability of such a non-random cluster, he said, was about one in 500.
Of the first four dozen dates drawn, 13 came from November and December and only 3 from January and February. Of the first 100 dates selected, 15 were from the month of December, only 6 from January.
Kunin speculated that as officials added the birthday capsules to their pre-raffle container in monthly groups, they failed to shuffle them thoroughly. When they were poured into the lottery jar, they again were not shuffled. Thus, individuals whose birthdays fell toward the end of the year were more likely to receive a low number.
Navy Captain William S. Pascoex, spokesman for the Selective Service, denied that the lottery was "stacked."
"Remember," he said. "those capsules were round so they'd mix up easily."
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