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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Drafting Winners for the 2018 MLB Season

Before the 2017 playoffs kicked off, I wrote the story of my lifelong love affair with baseball. Though filled with heartbreak, the tale ended with hope that this would finally be the year my hometown Dodgers tasted championship nirvana. The story was titled Your Annual Reminder that Baseball is Needlessly Cruel, a nod to the uniquely unpredictable nature of America’s pastime come October.  

In hindsight, this was foreshadowing.

A few weeks later, that story ended in a Los Angeles sports bar. Surrounded by the people I love most – I even dragged my Dad along – the Houston Astros ripped my soul out of the heart that Yu Darvish tore from my chest in the 2nd inning. It was a bad time.

6 months later, it’s time to start anew – whether my battered spirit is ready or not. With the 2018 MLB season around the corner, I’ve rounded up the gang for a draft-style preview of the upcoming action. The four of us took turns in a 6-round snake draft with the goal of selecting the group of teams that will total the most wins at the end of the year.1

Without further ado, let’s get back on that horse and get ready for yet another year of baseball:

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It’s Time to Have a Talk About Social Media

Our relationship with social media officially needs counseling.

We first met in college (Harvard, to be exact).1 Social media promised a future of easy connection, open sharing, and endless possibility. It was fun. Exciting. Different. We were infatuated.

As our infatuation grew, we shared more and more. What started as a quick text, a short status update, swelled until we had left our photos on their shelves and built our businesses through their networks. Our friends, family, and identities became deeply intertwined with social media. Infatuation turned into commitment.

It’s changing you, they warned. Some said that we were losing ourselves in the relationship, losing touch with our true friends, or that our new partner was hurting our self-esteem. We didn’t listen. The constant flow of approval and entertainment was too addictive, too captivating. Like. Retweet. Share. Social media just felt too good.

But the honeymoon is over.

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