Thursday, October 18, 2012

Elections and small sample sizes

XKCD hits the nail on the head yet again with a great commentary on election year "no one has ever _____ and won the White House" musings.

These drive me nuts because obviously we have an incredibly small sample size.  Our country may have been around for quite some time now, but we've only had 44 presidents.  Think about how few people that really is.

Additionally, states change, demographics change, and the electoral college system is ridiculous.  This gives rise to all sorts of statistical "anomalies" that really are quite probable when you think of how few events we're looking at.

The sports world does this too, baseball probably more than the rest of them.  While watching the post season this year with my long suffering Oriole's fan husband, we got quite a kick out of pointing out how specific some of the stats they brought up were.  "He's 1 for 3 when facing Sabathia during the post season over the last 3 years".  Four at bats over a whole career and we're supposed to draw some sort of conclusion from this?  Sigh.

Anyway, here's the comic.  Happy Thursday.

1 comment:

  1. Need I remind you BS King, the only worthwhile stats are those that prove the opinions you already hold. The rest is just the whitenoise of life that should be ignored (Ref. the second law of sponge-headedness).