Browsing All Posts filed under »cognitive bias«

Did Lance Armstrong Cheat, and Does it Matter?: what to make of all this now that he will “no longer address” the issue

August 28, 2012


When Lance Armstrong suddenly pleaded “no contest” last week in the USADA’s proceedings against him, my university’s communications office sent out a time-sensitive request to faculty members who might have some comment. I foolishly glanced at a couple of news reports on my iPad in the meeting I was in, and then tapped out a […]

What we cannot reliably learn from former NFL players about the “bounty” system (or anything else)

March 7, 2012


It goes without saying that most of the chatter on the sports networks comes from the mouths of former players and coaches. There may typically be one journalist or “broadcaster” moderating a discussion, and occasionally there are non-player “experts” about particular subjects internal or external to the sport in question (from folks who analyze the […]

Still wondering about the Wonderlic test

March 26, 2011


I just read another extremely typical, and unhelpful, treatment of the relevance of the Wonderlic test for predicting the prospects of young quarterbacks in the NFL. It comes from’s “Cold Hard Facts,” via the Beacher Report. I raised this issue in the previous post, “Your brain on sports.” Like everything I’ve ever read or heard […]

Your brain on sports

March 24, 2011


Does playing sports make you smarter? Or is it just that smart people play (and excel at) sports? The studies referred to in a New York Times blog post today won’t settle that debate. But they do highlight ways in which the jock’s brain seems to be smarter and faster than the nerd’s. The main […]

The end of the beginning of the 2010 NFL season

October 4, 2010


A well-rounded sport-spectator experience involves following several sports through the course of the year. Different sports showcase different features that make sports spectatorship rewarding: from the mental determination and courage of individual athletes in, say, golf, tennis, or the marathon, struggling to maintain focus in the face of self-doubt, pain, and exhaustion; to the perfectly […]

Should we all root for the Washington Generals?

September 23, 2010


US Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito visited the Law School at my university last week, and worked in a curious sports reference for those interested in reading the tea leaves of his moral psychology. We all want to know how those on the bench decide cases when the law itself is unclear and they have […]

“Why no Gatherer-sports?”

September 4, 2010


There’s an old adage one hears in business schools to describe managers with a limited range of management skills (and presumably limited career prospects): if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And if the only two tools you have are a hammer and a saw, every problem […]

More on Blown Calls: which sport is worse?

August 17, 2010


Here are a couple of quick addenda to the last post on the different types of challenges that officials face in different sports, and how this should affect decisions about introducing technology (or expanding its use) to overcome the “human error factor” in officiating. First, I want to point to the articles that prompted me, even […]

World Cup diary #3: the beginning of the end

June 28, 2010


A busy travel schedule has allowed me to see most of the matches so far, to keep up on the press and bloggers, yet not to comment much myself. But now the real tournament has begun, in the second round. I’ll be blogging regularly from here on in. It’s hard to give a comparative assessment […]

The imperfect game, Part 5 of 5: The irrational quest to tame chance

June 10, 2010


Are the businessmen in charge of baseball trying to manage their precarious pre-modern brand by preserving its quaintest features? Or is there a recognition by the high-priests in charge that we have to reconcile ourselves with the essential element of luck and chance that is shot through the game of baseball. Those who passionately want […]

The imperfect game, Part 4: Do umps really need to be part of the game?

June 10, 2010


The Imperfect Game debate has revived a long-standing debate about how to treat umpires and their fallibility as “part of the game.” Everything we know about human perception and cognitive psychology informs us that umpires will  blow calls. Most of the blowable calls, including Joyce’s call last week, involve “judgments” that have to be made […]

The imperfect game, Part 3: The end-game bias

June 10, 2010


It is significant that the perfect game was denied at the point of the last out. If the incident had happened in the 4th inning and Galarraga had gone on to pitch a one-hit complete game would anything like the same controversy have ensued? (That was a rhetorical question.) There is a pervasive, but surely […]

The imperfect game. In our imperfect world. Part 1

June 10, 2010


Writing and traveling for my day job have distracted me from the blog for a busy three weeks in the sporting world. And in particular, other deadlines and a trip abroad kept me from weighing in on The Imperfect Game: when Armando Galarraga earned the 27th consecutive out, but was denied his perfect game when […]

Root, root, root for…the underdog

May 16, 2010


In the previous post I began with the intention of quickly introducing a link my colleague David Wong sent me to a fun article in Slate called “The Underdog Effect: why do we love a loser?” But before I could think about why some of us cheer for underdogs, I couldn’t help pausing to worry […]