Readers in the U.S. are doubtless aware of the “Deflategate scandal”, in which the NFL alleged that Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of his generation, had conspired with an equipment manager and locker room attendant, to deflate a microscopic amount of pressure from footballs in the AFC championship game. The NFL seemed to be completely taken by surprise by the Ideal Gas Law and the fact that outside temperatures below calibration temperatures would result in much larger deflation without tampering.
The findings depend on the interpretation of statistical data by decision-makers – a topic that interests me. I found the technical report by Exponent, Wells’ technical consultants, to be very unsatisfactory on numerous counts:
- although they were reported by Wells to have considered “all permutations”, they hadn’t. On important occasions, they omitted highly plausible possibilities that indicated no tampering and, on other occasions, they only considered assumptions that were…
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