Author Topic: Week 2: Chapters 2 & 3  (Read 2954 times)  

Offline Eltanin Publishing

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Week 2: Chapters 2 & 3
« on: November 19, 2012, 06:34:14 am »
Hi, everyone. I'll be able to post a more lengthy message a little later in the morning, but I wanted to at least start a thread so people can jump in. Just a few brief thoughts for now:

I found these two chapters to be less technical (less like a school lesson).

Chapter 2:
I was surprised how badly the TV pundits do in predicting things. Why do watch and listen to these people if their opinions are essentially a coin flip? Silver talks about how it is "entertainment" more than serious prediction. I never like watching The MacLaughlin Group because they always argue and talk over each other - yelling, not letting anyone get a word in. The idea of hedgehog vs. fox was interesting. Foxes may be better at predictions, but hedgehogs make for better tv, so we're stuck watching hedgehogs who are often wrong.

Chapter 3:
It was interesting learning about how stats and stats programs are used in scouting. But what was the big lesson of the chapter? In the end, it seemed like he was just saying the best tactic is to use BOTH stats and traditional scouting. Silver also brings up the idea of providing (as part of your prediction) a RANGE of possible outcomes, and saying how likely they were, rather than simply stating the one outcome that you think is MOST likely (~ loc 1420, "But they met radically different fortunes. PECOTA's innovation was to acknowledge this by providing a range of possible outcomes for each player"). Silver did this for his election predictions. Rather than just saying "I think Obama will win", he gave a graph of the possible electoral college outcomes and how likely he though each would be. I can't seem to copy the image, but this page - http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/author/nate-silver/ - has a graph called "Electoral Vote Distribution". Pundits simply say who they think will win - better prognosticators said WHY, with a distribution of likely outcomes.
 

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    Offline drenfrow

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    Re: Week 2: Chapters 2 & 3
    « Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 10:20:44 am »
    Chapter 2:

    I also thought the idea of hedgehog vs. fox very interesting.  It's unfortunate that hedgehogs are more telegenic than foxes.  It is more interesting to watch someone who says something with confidence (however wrong) than someone who is giving probability distributions.

    Chapter 3:

    I'm not a sports fan so this chapter didn't grab me as much.  One thing I noted was how baseball has always been statistic-heavy.  The first statistics (box score) given in1859?  That's some history.
      


     
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    Offline Eltanin Publishing

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    Re: Week 2: Chapters 2 & 3
    « Reply #2 on: November 20, 2012, 07:16:38 am »
    The baseball chapter made me think about how much freakin' MONEY is spent on sports. I'm not saying it's a bad thing - I like watching some sports - but it just made me think about it, when Silver talked about how much a player earns, how much scouts earn, and how much a win is worth.

    I suspect we'll see two different kinds of chapters in this book - chapters that simply tell us about how statistics and data are used in certain areas, and then other chapters that seem to have more of a lesson, trying to teach us something (math & stats, and also how to be better prognosticators). The baseball chapter seemed to be more of the former. Which is fine - I don't want it all to be like a textbook.
     

    Offline Ann in Arlington

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    Re: Week 2: Chapters 2 & 3
    « Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 09:36:07 am »
    I'm finding the book as a whole very interesting. . .so far, he hasn't said much that's surprised me. . . . especially about how poorly the pundits do.  Not that his observations will make them change. :D

    I really enjoyed the baseball chapter -- I agree -- he seems to advocate a statistical approach coupled with a scouting approach -- especially for the things that are not quantifiable by statistics but based on human judgement.  I liked his example of the two guys with identical stats but one is a generally good guy and the other has one foot in a prison cell.
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    Offline The Hooded Claw

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    Re: Week 2: Chapters 2 & 3
    « Reply #4 on: November 25, 2012, 08:29:40 pm »
    I got distracted by other stuff and only read Chapter 2 this week.  So I'll have some catching up to do while I travel this week.  Fortunately, airports and plane trips are good for that!
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    Offline hsuthard

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    Re: Week 2: Chapters 2 & 3
    « Reply #5 on: December 03, 2012, 10:35:14 am »
    I'm finding the book as a whole very interesting. . .so far, he hasn't said much that's surprised me. . . . especially about how poorly the pundits do.  Not that his observations will make them change. :D

    I really enjoyed the baseball chapter -- I agree -- he seems to advocate a statistical approach coupled with a scouting approach -- especially for the things that are not quantifiable by statistics but based on human judgement.  I liked his example of the two guys with identical stats but one is a generally good guy and the other has one foot in a prison cell.

    I agree, not much surprising information, but I think that's what makes him so agreeable. He manages to make it all sound very reasonable and why the heck weren't we doing it this way long ago?

    I think the baseball analogies helped me understand the evolution of statistical predictions. It also points out that although we were collecting lots of data, certain key predictors were used more than others and that led to some miscalculations. And leaving things like having one foot in a prison cell out of the equation is obviously not too smart, either.
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