Mark Twain’s “Science vs. Luck”

He brought in a cloud of witnesses, and produced an overwhelming mass of testimony, to show that old sledge was not a game of chance but a game of science.


While I’m not much of a gambler, I live only miles from a major river with numerous casinos and in a state that has horse racing as one of its top industries. I do own some stock and I’ve never known exactly why that isn’t considered gambling. But my point is that the world I live in doesn’t see gambling as a moral issue, but in another of Mark Twain’s very short stories “Science vs. Luck”, this isn’t the case. In fact, a group of friends are taken to court for playing “games of chance”. Their lawyer, Jim Sturgis, figures out a way to get them off the hook by convincing a jury that these games are more science than luck – as the title implies.

A number of the jurors are what one might call the pillars of the church in this community. The setup of this story was very good. The potential for poking fun at the morals of the day with all of the irreverence that I expect from Mark Twain is very high. But the punchline? It was an intelligent punchline – just not as funny as I thought it would be.


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