Musings on everyday probability

Lesson 2: The Made-up Probability

My prior discussion regards improperly multiplying probabilities when using statistics in court. But what about when someone simply makes up the probabilities? Surely, that wouldn’t happen in a court of law would it?

This is the first in two blogs regarding incorrect use of statistics in court.

The chances that a randomly selected man will be 7 feet tall or more is about one in a million. So it follows that the chance of two randomly selected men being 7 footers is the square of one in a million, which is one in a trillion, right?

...

An article and accompanying graph in the New York Times claims that low-skilled workers are not gaining the advantage they once were by moving to big cities. But it misses something important, calling the whole claim into question.

In the third quarter of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals last week, Boston missed all 14 3-pointers they attempted. This led the announcer to say something like, "by the law of averages, they are bound to improve." But will they?

Voting is thought of as the most important civic duty. But does your one vote really count? I mean, how many elections are won by just a vote? Certainly not many. Yet, I just read that in Virginia...

The New York Times reported today that "Blacks and Hispanics are more underrepresentated at top colleges than 35 years ago." Is this correct?
The short...

Any time there is even a ghost of a chance of snow, my three kids get very excited (ok, let's face it, being a southern transplant to NY, so do I). We go to https://www.snowdaycalculator.com in the h...

Is there any advantage to calling the coin toss in the Super Bowl? It doesn't appear so, as in the 49 games to date, tails has come up 25 times and heads has come up 24 (

A couple years back, I wrote on the chances of various "splits" in bridge (and explained why this is something bridge players care about) in

The NY Times answers it

I play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee, a game akin to football in that there are end zones, but akin to soccer in that there is constant action until someone scores. In Ultimate, you can only advance by t...

For the last year or so, I used my other site for blogging. You can find those posts at www.what-are-the-chances.blogspot.com .

I feel like I've written this too many times, but here we go again.
There was a splendid article in the

I have been working with Joe Jansen on the Citibike data in the R Language. Citibike is New York's bike sharing program, which started in may and currently has...

If you know how to play bridge, skip to the fourth paragraph!
In bridge, 13 cards are dealt to each of 4 players (so all 52 cards are dealt). Players sitting across from each other are...