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.
At Sochi, American NBC TV sports analyst Mary Carillo was asked what she would most remember about the Games. Her answer was the confusing figure skating scoring system. She is not alone in that view; but the past has held other memories.
The heat was on this January during the 2014 Australian Open with 40C temperatures putting pressure on the top seeded tennis players and many lower seeded players doing the same. On the men’s side, 8th seed Stan Wawrinka upset 1st seed Rafa Nadal in the final. On the women’s side, while 4th seed Li Na was able to restore order by beating the irrepressible 20th seed Dominika Cibulková in the final, many more high seeds fell by the wayside earlier in women’s competition.
Fans of broken ankles rejoice! The Winter Olympics - that quadrennial celebration of people flinging themselves down mountains, flinging themselves off mountains, and doing things on ice that would be much easier to do not on ice - is just around the corner. Like millions around the world I'll be spending the next couple of weeks pretending to work while secretly watching these feats of human strength, skill and borderline insanity play out halfway across the globe.
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Dan Gilbert's Quicken Loans are going to make this year’s March Madness - the NCAA men’s division college basketball tournament - a whole lot madder. The two financial moguls are offering $1 billion dollars (yes, billion) to anyone who can make 'the perfect bracket' by predicting all of the winners of the 64-team single-elimination tournament.