Hot Hands

Why does everyone love a winner?

Everyone loves a goal-scorer on a winning streak.

We give them golden boots and bottles of champagne and hearty cheers.

“They just can’t miss!” We yell.

Of course, that isn’t true.

We tend to give individuals credit even when the odds are 50-50.

If someone flips a coin ten times and it lands on heads every time, we can’t help but believe there’s skill involved.

Faced with this unlikely but very possible string of outcomes, people begin to assume that the coin-flipper must be utilizing some secret skill or technique to bend the odds in their favor.

Maybe it’s the way they flip it.

Maybe it’s the coin itself.

Maybe they were touched by an angel,

Or just a jammy bugger.

This is called the hot hands fallacy.

The truth is that we don’t have enough data.

On any probability curve, the chances of getting ten heads on a coin flip are low, but not impossible.

And despite what you think, the odds of the eleventh coin flip landing on tails are still only 50/50.

You don’t need luck.

You just need to flip the coin enough times, and eventually, it’ll come up trumps.