Superstore — Random Numbers

Cheyenne and Mateo are trying to pick numbers for the upcoming Missouri jackpot and are discussing how random their numbers are. While each combination is no more lucky than any other combination, there are particular numbers that people pick because they feel lucky. The odds of the lottery being 1-2-3-4-5 are just as likely as any other combination of five numbers, but the likelihood of sharing the jackpot with another person is probably pretty low.

Superstore — Probability of Success

When it comes to selecting numbers for a lottery, people tend to irrationally believe certain numbers are more important than others. Each number is just as likely to be selected as the other numbers, so placing a higher probability on one number being selected isn’t rational.

Superstore — Discounting the Lottery

Mateo and Cheyenne discuss what they would do if they won the lottery. The two list a variety of different items they would spend their money on after receiving their income boost. Unfortunately, Sandra tells them about the difference between an annuity and a lump sum payment.

Young Sheldon — Go for it!

Young Sheldon teaches his family about the statistics behind going for it on 4th down. A lot of football fans believe you just have to punt, but studies by economists like David Romer show that it’s often better to go for it on 4th down than to punt. The famous Pulaski Academy coach who never punts became a bit hit after being interviewed by ESPN. The NY Times even created a Twitter bot that would tweet about whether teams should punt or go for it and the bot tweets during NFL games.

Young Sheldon — Probabilities vs Possibilities

In this clip from Young Sheldon, his pastor makes the claim that God’s existence was 50/50 and that people should bet on that coin flip. Sheldon is quick to point on that the pastor is confusing possibilities with probabilities, which is also a common mistake that students make in stats courses. A similar clip was posted before about a scene in Corner Gas involving a riot.

21 — Monty Hall Problem

MIT Professor, Micky Rosa (played by Kevin Spacey) challenges Ben with the Monty Hall problem of selecting a door with a prize hidden behind it. The Monty Hall Problem is based on a statistics brain teaser that insists the optimal choice is to switch your decision after the host reveals what’s behind one of the doors.

Vox — Shut Up About the Y-Axis

The truncated y-axis gets a bad wrap because a lot of individuals use it to mislead their audience. Vox argues that sometimes the truncation is important, but it’s important to know when/how to use it.

Yes, Prime Minister — Leading Questions

How a survey questions is asked may produced biased results, especially if the surveyor is trying to elicit a particular response. Besides the issues of responders trying to answer questions that they believe the researcher is asking, biased surveys can be used to show support both for and against the same topic. In this sketch comedy piece, Sir Appleby gives examples to his friend about various questions that could produce an opinion of supporting AND opposing conscription.

H/T to Chris Neill for the suggestion!

Corner Gas — A Riot is Not 50/50


A small-town cop gets a taser gun in case of a riot. His waitress asks about the odds of a riot breaking out and the cop’s partner responds with an innumerate answer.  The answer of 50/50 implies it’s just as likely as not to have a riot in the town of Dog River. In this rural setting, it’s way more likely NOT to have a riot. It’s almost like asking what’s the probability of rolling a 3 on a 6-sided die and someone answering 50/50: either you roll a 3 or you don’t. We know that answer should be 1/6 because either you roll a 3 or you don’t and the don’t includes rolling a 1,2,4,5, or 6. It’s much more likely not to roll a 3 so the size of the set (a 3 or a riot) is much smaller than its complement.

Thanks to Austin Boyle for the clip and the description!

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