Odds Are, You’re Reading The Odds Wrong

The Weather Channel forecasts a 30% chance of rain tomorrow – and it absolutely pours. Was the Weather Channel’s prediction wrong?

To quote the prophet Andre 3000, “you can plan a pretty picnic – but you can’t predict the weather.” Of course they got it wrong, weathermen are morons!

Based on his career batting average of .305, a fan predicts that there is a ~70% chance Mike Trout will fail to get a hit in an at-bat. Of course, Trout goes 9-for-13 the next weekend. Was the fan’s prediction wrong?

Let me explain something to you, poindexter. Baseball isn’t a math problem. Hitters have hot stretches every once in a while, but that .305 batting average is about right.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model predicts there is, approximately, a 30% chance that Donald Trump will win the Presidency. Well… you know how it went down. Was Silver’s prediction wrong?

THE POLLS! BURN THE POLLS! YOU CAN’T TRUST THE NUMBERS!

Congratulations, hypothetical strawman – you suck at probability! Unfortunately, our italicized imaginary friend is not alone. Too many of us fail to understand that any good prediction is tied to a probability, and that any one outcome doesn’t necessarily make a prediction right or wrong. 

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