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Discussion: Hot Hands

in: BigWillyStyle; BigWillyStyle > 2016-05-10

May 11, 2016 10:40 AM # 
Pink Socks:
When I was in college, I went to a guest lecture by Stephen Jay Gould (it was a packed house, him being a renowned evolutionary biologist, and KU being the highest place of learning in a state whose school board famously denounced evolution just a few weeks before).

However, he was there lecturing about statistics and prediction, and at one point he was pretty adamant about the Hot Hands Fallacy regarding basketball players, and I was pretty skeptical of it (as someone who watched and shot a lot of hoops). Skeptical enough to remember this from a lecture 17 years ago.

Then, just a few years ago, I heard that the science wasn't settled on this, so maybe there is some truth after all. It seems like Hot Hands is somewhat related to Power Up Mode, and I find this sort of thing pretty interesting.
May 11, 2016 6:04 PM # 
I like the theory of central governor
and the notion that our physical body and muscles are somewhat not fully tapped even in that perfect PR at the end of a perfect preparation season, and our brain and nervous system is the limiting factor shutting down and protecting itself.
May 11, 2016 6:06 PM # 
What did you say about Hot Hands not being a thing?
May 11, 2016 10:06 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Well, Steph Curry's version of "Hot Hands" is very much different than mine!

One thing that I've thought about regarding Hot Hands is, say, that you're a 50% shooter in basketball, so you're just like a coin flip. And coins can turn up heads 9 times out of 10 sometimes. And 50% shooters can have really good games sometimes.

But one thing coins don't have are emotions.

If you're a 50% shooter, and you start shooting well, your confidence changes, your brain changes, and when that happens, you're not really the same person who's a 50% shooter. You're a little better than that. The statistics might say that you're a 60% shooter or something under those exact conditions.

Anecdotally, I get this when I play sports. Sometimes in volleyball, I want every set to come to me because I feel invincible, and I tend to spike better. And then other times I lack confidence and I screw up. Same in baseball with hitting.

But, I'm not a statistician, so I really have no idea what happens.
May 11, 2016 10:27 PM # 
Pink Socks:
(Also, I honestly feel like my best "Power Up" orienteering run was the Middle at US Champs last month. I've had clean runs before at local races, but nothing like that. Good time to do it, I suppose!)
May 12, 2016 2:32 AM # 
Interesting. Another of this type of debate was the whole "clutchness" thing, i.e. is making shots in game-deciding situations a skill in itself or just a byproduct of general basketball ability and small sample sizes. A while back the knock on LeBron was that he hadn't won a championship because he "wasn't clutch" while Kobe on the other hand was the baddest most clutchiest dude around - an argument which is of course nonsense, and I always rooted hard for Bron to win a 'ship for the sole purpose of seeing that argument finally die. Anyway nowadays I assume it's pretty much settled among those who study the game that a player can't be intrinsically more clutch than another player.
May 12, 2016 5:18 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Related to Nikolay's link....

I remember that the first episode of Radiolab that I ever listened to was about the limits of the human body:

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