This is a sequel to my previous post:
I often use poker as a theological analogy. That's in part because poker is an iconic game in American culture. In addition, it's a flexible analogy that can illustrate different doctrines, viz. prayer, predestination, miracles. Here's another example:
I'm going to continue with my original analogy, but develop it in another direction. The question is whether something that's not random can seem to be random.
Suppose, as a teenager, I discover that I have telepathic abilities. BTW, this isn't purely hypothetical. There is evidence for telepathy. For instance, philosopher Stephen Braude has documented this phenomenon. Likewise, Classicist Gilbert Murray had quite the reputation as a mindreader. My illustration doesn't depend on the reality of telepathy. I'm just using it to make a point of principle. But it could actually be realistic.
Back to the story. As an enterprising, but not overly scrupulous teenager, I realize that I could use my ability to make an easy and lucrative living for myself, if I play my cards right (pardon the pun). It dovetails perfectly with certain kinds of gambling. I'd be unbeatable at chess or poker.
However, I have to be very discreet about my ability. A casino would not be amused by the presence of a psychic poker player. Not to mention the players I cheat.
Although I could be equally invincible at chess or poker, I dare not play both, as that would draw too much attention to myself. The trick is not to acquire a reputation as a great poker player (or chess player), since that would attract unwanted attention. I must figure out how to succeed without becoming too successful for my own good. Maintain a low profile.
I'm not a regular customer at the casino. I only go there when I'm low on money. And since the amount I win varies from one game to the next, I don't go back at regular intervals. From the casino's perspective, there's no pattern to when I show up. It seems to be random.
Of course, that's not the case. I go there at irregular times because the amount of the jackpot varies from one game to another. Sometimes I win more, sometimes I win less. When I win more, I can live on that for longer. When I win less, I need to replenish my bank account sooner.
Moreover, people don't spend money at the same rate every month or ever year. Maybe I buy a new car one year, or buy a boat one year. Or maybe the boat engine needs to be repaired, so I'm out a lot of money that month.
So, from the casino's perspective, it's completely unpredictable when I will turn up, even though that's not really random, but determined by my finances, which are determined by my winnings and expenses. There's actually a connection, but the casino doesn't have enough information to piece it together.
In addition, if I always went to the same casino, that would arouse suspicion. Even if my visits were infrequent, my success would still raise red flags. So, to cover my tracks, I spread it out by visiting different casinos in Reno, Vegas, and Atlantic City, as well as Indian casinos. That creates a randomized appearance. Yet it's calculated randomness. There's actually a pattern to it. But each casino is unaware of my activities at other casinos.
Finally, although I can win every game, that would be a dead giveaway. I'm an unbeatable player who must pretend to be beatable to thrown them off the scent. I must lose more often than I win. A tactical loss. Once again, that's to feign the appearance of happenstance.
The point is not whether it's ethical for a mindreader to be a professional poker player or chess player. It's just a handy way of demonstrating how, in principle, one agent's actions can purposeful and methodical even though they seem to be aimless or coincidental to observers.