Friday, February 7, 2014

Complexity, Human Behavior, and the Seahawks

We all now in the Seattle region are soaked in the glory of the Seahawks absolutely devastating victory over the Denver Broncos. It was so bad for them, it was such an incredible blowout, that even talking heads have trouble talking about it without hyperbole, resorting to the statement "The Broncos got punked".
The most interesting thing for me is the implications of this blowout victory. Namely, not only did the Broncos get punked but so did every prognosticator out there. Even I, a stalwart Hawk fan, had the Broncos up by 3, essentially agreeing with the Vegas line, until I changed my vote the day before.  I remembered something about the younger team usually winning a superbowl, which swayed me at the 12th hour. However, I put the Hawks up 17-14, thinking a desparate 4th quarter field goal would be the decider.

So wrong.  Vegas was wrong too.

 A note about Vegas. They are right - a lot. They're usually spot on with elections and other things. But the more complex things are, the more they shift around under you, the more human behavior is involved – the more difficult it is to predict.
I wrote an article about this some time ago considering the best draft choice ever, Tom Brady. Tom Brady was a low draft choice, and all the pundits had him being a permanent backup. Bledsoe gets injured, and the next thing we know New England has 3 superbowl wins. Now that the Mighty Seahawks are among those who possess superbowl wins, I can speak of the veritable cornucopia of low draft choices we have. Short QB. A new head coach.  Fifth and sixth-rounders, and even undrafted players making plays on the biggest stage known. The whole defense is known as misfits.
In the next few editions of this blog I'm going to be exploring complexity and prediction, and how we can tell if we're in the domain where those make sense or not, and to know upfront if all the dogged effort we put into telling the future has any prayer of making the future known to us.

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