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Vulgar Stats Bonus(ish): How I Get My Ideas

01/12/11
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Maybe this will be interesting to a few people, maybe not, but I’ve kind of thought about writing it for a while.  With the varied, and at times relatively in depth analysis that I do with Vulgar Statistics, I thought at least a few people might be wondering how I come up with topic ideas.

As a Sabres fan, I like when I can verify what I believe I see on the ice with actual numbers.  There is some truth in the statement that “stats don’t always tell the entire story,” but the flip side of that is that statistics are never completely irrelevant.  It bothers me that some fans become so set in what they believe, or want to believe that they will continually ignore significant evidence to the contrary.  I’m sure psychology has a fancy name for that, but I just call it stupidity.  I’ve taken to just ignoring the fans that say things like “I know what I see,” or “I have eyes, I don’t need stats.”  No, thats ridiculous, you need some sort of measuring stick, otherwise what you’re saying is just a meaningless opinion.

So as a fan, I find myself uncomfortable saying something without having some sort of statistical basis.  When I start to forumalte an opinion after watching hockey, my next inclination is to pour through NHL.com or ESPN.com to see if there’s any truth behind it.  Sometimes I’m right: “hmm, I think Thomas Vanek is a really good player,” and sometimes I’m wrong, “I don’t think a highly paid goaltender with a .010 higher save pct. has much of an impact,” but I like that I’m finding out.  So basically most of these columns begin as the thought “I think (something)…I need to make a spreadsheet about it!”

The other side of that is seeing other fans spout off things that don’t jive with what I’m seeing on the ice.  But I don’t like to get into an opinion based argument, because both people will merely stick to their side and no one really learns anything.  I don’t want to just say, “I think this,” I want to be able to say, “I think this, and these numbers support that thought.”  Also known as, “I think you’re wrong, so I’m going to bludgeon you with a spreadsheet, aha!”

So basically the gist of it is I’m a huge nerd.  Now you know. :)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brendan permalink
    01/17/11 10:45 AM

    The psychological term is “Confirmation Bias”. I absolutely love the site, don’t know why it has taken me this long to find it. Keep up the awesome work! *Bookmarked*

  2. 01/17/11 10:57 PM

    Yeah, I knew it was ‘something’-bias. Couldn’t remember from my organizational behavior class. Thanks for reading and for the kind words. :)

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