Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why Have The Red Sox Gotten Worse Over The Last Six Years?

It's 5:16 am. I'm debugging baseball code while listening to conservative talk radio (aka "NPR"). They just ran a story about multiple climate scientists scrambling to explain why global air temperatures have "dropped over the past 15 years."

I'm flabbergasted. Global temperatures are dropping? That would seem to contradict the opinions of 97.4% of all climate scientists.

As you can see in the graph, 1998 (exactly 15 years ago) just happened to be an extremely hot year. And the graph shows that it was a bit hotter than the most recent year for which we have data. So, technically, global temperatures have dropped over the last 15 years.

However, they have risen significantly over the last 16 years (and also over the last 14 years).

It's no surprise that you can find a temperature drop if you hand-pick the comparison year. This is called confirmation bias: people who want to deny climate change (which apparently now includes NPR) only pay attention to the one single year that supports their bias.

Why didn't they run a story on why temperatures have skyrocketed over the last 13 years, or the last 17 years? There are only three reasons that "scientists" would choose exactly 15 years and not look at any of the other data:

1) They are making shit up to get attention.
2) They are making shit up because the oil companies are paying them to.
3) They are morons.

This is insane. This is the logical equivalent of a New York Times article titled "Why Have The Red Sox Gotten Worse Over The Last Six Years?"

Well, gee. If you hand-pick the year they last won the World Series (2007), you can pretend that the Boston Red Sox are on a "downward trend" (from a winning percentage of .593 to .590).

This line of reasoning is, of course, absurd. The Red Sox have the best record in the American League, just one year after finishing in last place. Everyone in Red Sox Nation knows that the team has righted the ship and are the favorite to win the division.

But if you cherry-pick the data and only look at 2007, then you might think it's time to release Big Papi, trade away Clay Buchholz, and fire John Farrell and Ben Cherington. While you are calling the sports radio shows with this brilliant analysis, I'll be enjoying the Red Sox playoff run.

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