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LeBron may know about the ‘zone’ but he don’t know shit about hot hands

Posted by John T. Reed on

More on the nonexistent hot hand and the people too ignorant to understand that.
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LeBron James is a high school graduate who does not understand that he has never had a hot hand and never will. A hot hand is a time period where your probability of making a basketball shot is elevated above your normal probability of doing that because of a beneficial psychological effect of making shots early in that time period.
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This is a common misconception because the average moron makes the post hoc ergo propter hoc logic fallacy. That is Latin for “after which therefore because of which.” You just hit three shots in a row therefore you are on a hot streak where each successive basket is caused by the previous good shot.
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By the way there is another logic fallacy called the “Hot hand fallacy.” It says that a person who experiences a successful outcome has a greater chance of success in further attempts.
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My forthcoming book How to Spot Dishonest Arguments and keep your own thinking straight has a chapter on probability and statistics and another on the scientific method.
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Here’s the deal, as Joe Biden would say.
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1. Do not use logic fallacies to draw conclusions, by definition.
2. People whose thinking IS straight use logical statistical techniques and the scientific method.
3. The scientific method says A. Research all that is known about the topic B. Form a hypotheses about the matter C. Test your hypothesis. D. Draw a conclusion from the test results.
4. The fallacy was first described in a 1985 paper by Amos Tversky, Thomas Gilovich, and Robert Vallone. The "Hot Hand in Basketball" study questioned the theory that basketball players have "hot hands", which the paper defined as the claim that players are more likely to make a successful shot if their previous shot was successful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_hand
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A reader posited some theory supporting the hot-hand fallacy. In other words, he did B of the scientific method without doing A or C. I do not respect that. My new book is designed to elevate you above such “Cliff Claven” nonsense.
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Roughly speaking, streaks are random. When baseball was invented, professional statisticians could have told people after about 150 years, there will be a player who will set a streak record of hitting safely in a number of games in the high fifties. We cannot tell you his name or the year. But we are sure that will be the streak record. His name was DiMaggio and the year was 1941. He deserves NO credit for the streak. He DOES deserve credit for hitting .357 that year. The streak was a random by product of hitting .357 and playing enough years to trigger the Law of Large Numbers (statistical principle that is in my book).
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Obviously there is skill in baseball hitting and basketball shooting. But just as obviously if you understand statistics, performance of all players, including stars, varies randomly around their average high performance. Sorry if that is like telling you there is no Easter Bunny.
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I earlier used the analogy of coin flipping to explain randomness, but that went over the head of one reader. No problem, instead of a two-sided coin, we will switch to a ten-sided coin. It is made of metal and has a shape of a rod with a decagon (ten equal sides) shape. It will look like a large Allen wrench. We shall call it the Lebron James coin. I will assume his shooting success rate is 80% baskets and 20% misses. I do not care what his real percentage is. It is irrelevant here.
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Reflecting that, we will write a B on eight sides and an M on two. We will then flip the LeBron coin once for every shot he has ever taken in his NBA career and record B or M.
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Guess what? The freaking LeBron coin will frequently go on streaks. Evidence of the hot hand? No, stupid, it’s not LeBron. He has nothing to do with it. It is just an Allen wrench with random results and an expected value of his average performance.
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What is expected value? Read my new book.
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I could probably break the Allen wrench coin results into groups approximating the number of shots he takes in a game, shuffle such “games” randomly, and show it to Lebron himself—without telling him how they were created.
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LeBron, being a high school grad, might look at each “game” and say things like, “That looks like like Philly in 2017.” Did you have a hot hand that night? “Yeah, one of my best.” I expect he would identify a number of hot and cold hand actual games he remembers looking at the coin-flip simulations of games.
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Actually, LeBron, these “games” of yours are really just coin flips of a ten-sided Allen wrench marked with the expected value of your average performance. In other words, these are RANDOM results related to you only in that the base markings on the Allen wrench were your average shooting percentage.
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Hey folks, there has been a revolution going on in pro sports in the last several decades. It is about what I am trying to tell you. It was in all the papers not to mention in a movie theater near you.
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Ever heard of Bill James? Ever heard of Moneyball? Ever heard of nerd geeks figuring out that basketball players should shoot three-pointers more, and now they do. Ever heard of professor Romer’s analysis that showed football teams should go for it more often on fourth down and kick less. Professor Romer and I has exchanged emails. He read my Football Clock Management book before I had contact with him. Belechick and other top football coaches now kick less on fourth down because of Professor Romer.
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Nerd geeks have shown penalty kickers in soccer that that they should aim more often at the middle of the goal, not just the left or right sides. But soccer players are even dumber and less secure in their manhood than American baseball players so they refuse to do it.
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Memo to LeBron James who showed contempt for the nerd geeks who unlike him, completed college and studied probability and statistics and expected value and randomness.
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LeBron said, ”I guarantee you that a statistician never has been in the zone.”
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F you, LeBron. I had a meager playing career, but even I have been in the zone. Everything seems to move in slow motion, yadda yadda. Been there. Experienced that. Interesting, but unlike you, the “zone” did not dazzle me into stupidity and inability to understand logic.
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Nerd geeks, who maybe never DID experience the zone, are nevertheless revolutionizing pro sports. They are doing that by rejecting conventional wisdom, running the numbers, and finding the stats that really matter. For example, batting average is stupid. Bill James Runs Created is far better.
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Many new companies specializing in the new stats have sprung up as a result of this revolution.
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LeBron, you are a freaking idiot. Use some of your money to get a college education. Major in probability and statistics so you stop talking stupid about your own profession. Subscribe to the Journal of Quantitative Analysis of Sports as I do. If you refuse to get that college degree, use some of your money to pay someone to read it to you and translate it to words you can understand. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jqas?lang=en
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You have gotten your dumb ass beaten by nerds who were never in the “zone” but who were in the library and the probability and stats class. They are measuring the performance of and advising the coaches and general managers of your opponents.
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Wise up.

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