Hot Hands, Streaks and Coin-flips: Numerical Nonsense in the New York Times
Published Web Locationhttps://arxiv.org/pdf/1512.08773.pdf
The existence of "Hot Hands" and "Streaks" in sports and gambling is hotly debated, but there is no uncertainty about the recent batting-average of the New York Times: it is now two-for-two in mangling and misunderstanding elementary concepts in probability and statistics; and mixing up the key points in a recent paper that re-examines earlier work on the statistics of streaks. In so doing, it's high-visibility articles have added to the general-public's confusion about probability, making it seem mysterious and paradoxical when it needn't be. However, those articles make excellent case studies on how to get it wrong, and for discussions in high-school and college classes focusing on quantitative reasoning, data analysis, probability and statistics. What I have written here is intended for that audience.