Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Redskins Rule - Statistical Bunk

So in the case of the spurious relationship, you have two symptoms that appear when there is underlying disease.

  1. Symptom A can indicate symptom B, but 
  2. Symptom A does not cause symptom B.

Then there's nonsense like the Redskin Rule which is not even a spurious relationship... it's coincidence.

For those non-(American)-football fans, the Washington Redskins is a football team here in the US.  And since this team moved to Washington DC, an incredible coincidence started happening:
If the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the party that won the previous election wins the next election and that if the Redskins lose, the challenging party's candidate wins.
From 1932 to 2000, this "Rule" correctly predicted the outcome of the election.


This is why people say things like, "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics."

You can make the numbers "say" anything you want... especially when there's nothing to say.

If you do want to say something technically meaningful and relevant for solving short- and intermediate-term problems, here are some links to read:

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