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.
Bleacher Report — The Coach That Never Punts
At Pulaski Academy in Arkansas, Kevin Kelley’s team never punts because he opts for high risk decisions because the probabilities are in his favor. He doesn’t believe in taking the risk averse method and he also believes in focuses on his team’s comparative advantage instead of just doing the traditional method.
Brothers Osborne – It Ain’t My Fault
Introduce correlation vs causation using this music video from Brothers Osborne. In the story, the singer describes a bunch of events from a previous night of drinking, but reiterates that it wasn’t his fault. While his presence was correlated with a bunch of events, he insists he didn’t cause those events. He then goes on to list the causes of each event for the night:
Blame the whiskey on the beer
Blame the beer on the whiskey
Blame the mornin’ on the night
For whose lyin’ here with me
Blame the bar for the band
Blame the band for the song
Blame the song for the party that went all night long
But it ain’t my fault
For more country music videos that display economics, check out EconGoneCountry.
Freakonomics: Causation vs. Correlation
Bad historical assumptions about why things happen – after all, ice cream consumption was blamed for causing polio once upon a time.