|Thursday 4th October 2018|
Bill Benter - From Genius of Betting to Philanthropist
In the mid-eighties, Bill Benter did not care much about what happened around him. He was, rather, very busy writing an incredible program and creating its databases. Indeed, its software could process up to 70 variables of any horse registered at each race, such as the famous Grand National that will take place in 2019 on April 6th.
In this way he re-elaborated a statistical model of racing and gave back very realistic odds on the winning horses. He was so absorbed in his job that he decided to leave his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (United States) to move to the Far East, more exactly in Hong Kong, simply because local racecourses could give him a better opportunity to develop his idea.
There, Benter could easily get his pay: he and his partner were betting on the results the computer returned as best ones. And they became winners. The more they refined the model, the more their winnings increased dramatically
“It was a huge amount of work, but the profit was totally legal. From 1996 this business became a substantial success." But Benter had only a few friends. He was not the typical companion and, moreover, he was in a foreign country. "I was out of any community. My interactions were only with a computer screen. We had no clients or co-workers and, therefore, no opportunities of interaction with other people.”
So his lawyer invited him to join the Rotary Club. The idea did not initially attract Benter. "I'm not a club guy," said Benter, but when he was invited for the second time, he accepted. Accepting that invitation, Bill thus entered the philanthropic spiral that, in a sense, became his second life, starting in 1996. "There is a group of people who appreciate your good work, combined with the power of good example."
He decided to leave a deeper trait on his philanthropy path and so he initially worked with the Rotary Club Macau to build schools in southwest China. This made him feel, unexpectedly, full of a force he had never known before in his life. It became like an addiction. "How does philanthropy trigger this in people?" He then discovered that this sensation had been scientifically analyzed.
Indeed, several scientific studies have shown that philanthropy is a powerful stimulus for the changes in brain activity. These changes cause an effect of pleasure that can be compared to the use of synthetic drugs. Many people are witnesses of how doing good really provoke this great pleasure. So, what is it that makes us put first aid to others? The answer may be unromantic, but the answer is in our prefrontal cortex, involved in the empathic relationship with others, and in something called mirror neuron.
The theory behind the discovery of mirror neurons is related to feeling like someone else is feeling. These neurons give the possibility to perceive the bodily and emotional reality of the other, in a deep and empathic interaction, generated in the pre-frontal cortex. According to this theory it can truly be said: "I know how you feel.”