Monday, January 28, 2008

Wes Welker's Determination

I found this story on Wes Welker, the Patriots receiver, inspirational, but I'm mainly posting it because I kept trying to imagine parents who have to deal with a kid like this:
Wes was 2½ when he climbed his first tree and sat on the roof until Leland pulled in from work. Incredible balance, unlimited energy. "Hell on wheels from the get-go," Leland says.

When Welker reached high school at Heritage Hall, a private college prep school that oozes manners, he was both exasperating and entertaining. He'd play offense, defense and special teams in practice, then dive to the line on wind sprints because no sir, he was not going to be beat.

He'd vomit at least every other week during a game. Coach Rod Warner still has it on film. See Wes run 50 yards for a touchdown, charge back onto the field to kick the extra point, then turn and ask for a minute so he can throw up on the 10-yard line.

"It wasn't nerves," Warner says. "He just pushed his body so hard.

"The people in the stands would just start applauding. He gave it all every single drill, every sprint, every play."

He became a legend in the red Oklahoma clay. Before Welker, Heritage Hall had just one 10-win season in 30 years. It has averaged 11 wins a year since. Welker led them to a state championship as a junior and scored 24 points a game as a senior … in football.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Yaron Brook on Why Socialized Medicine is Immoral

Good article by Yaron Brook on on why socialized medicine is immoral. In a world of increased privatization, where it is generally realized that it's wrong for governments to run industries, it's incredible that two of the most important industries - education and healthcare - continue to buckle under massive and increasing government control.

Probabilities, Prediction Markets, and Popular Fallacies

With Hillary's surprise victory over Obama in the New Hampshire primary, pundits everywhere are decrying the allegedly 'wrong' odds that prediction markets like Intrade were displaying prior to the announced results. (As just one example, Barry Ritholtz weighs in with his 'explanation' of : "Why Opinion Markets Fail" )

At one point the betting markets were implying over a 90% probability for Obama to win. Does this mean they were 'wrong'? No it does not. It is impossible to judge whether a given probability is/was correct based on the outcome of a single event.

A 90% probability simply implies that, if you encounter a series of events each with a 90% probability, then 9 times out of 10, the favored outcome will occur; and 1 time out of 10, the unfavored outcome will occur. Those like Ritholtz who are now calling the prediction markets 'wrong' are implying the following: if the probability is 90% for an outcome to occur, then that outcome should occur every time. In other words, if the odds are 90% in favor of something -- it should happen 100% of the time! But this is obviously fallacious. If the outcome occurs 100% of the time, then the correct probability to assign to it would be 100% -- not 90%.

To validly assess the accuracy of prediction markets, one needs to aggregate all the situations where the odds were 90%, and then calculate whether the favored outcome indeed occurred 90% of the time. (And do the same with each level of probability.) This -- and only this -- will tell you how accurate prediction markets tend to be.