The World Cup group stage: predictions through the betting markets

The FIFA World Cup is just round the corner, kicking off in mid-June and ending in mid-July. Now by this stage, you may have already clicked away as you possibly dread having to hear about it all the time for the next few weeks. You may be looking for an alternative place where you will not have to hear about it – good luck with that!

How well do FIFA’s ratings predict World Cup success?

The first match has yet to kickoff, but it’s not too early for the weeping and gnashing of teeth to begin. Fans of the 32 World Cup teams already worry that their group is too hard and their hated rival’s group is too easy, based on FIFA’s team ratings. Just how much of a bellwether have those ratings been? FIFA changed the original 1993 system in 1999 (for the worse as we shall see) and again in 2006 (for the better).

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Olympic speed skating and why all ice is not created equal

The Sochi Olympics added another chapter to the history of Olympic speed skating. An Olympic champion succeeds because of physique, training and efficiency, which in turn, depends on coaching, technique, equipment (drag-reducing suits and clap skates) and ice conditions. Of those factors, ice conditions can change the most from one Games to the next. Ice technicians at Sochi controlled temperature, humidity and ice hardness. But how do their efforts compare with their counterparts from the past?

The hot hand effect gets hot again

When statisticians make an appearance in the press or popular culture they are often portrayed as contrarians who take pleasure in debunking the misconception in common intuitions. The statistician, the media seems to believe, is like the cold splash of water after a hangover - a sobering antidote to irrationality that may be unwanted - but it is for our own good. It is a rap that isn’t all bad.

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