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Tilting at Windmills

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June 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BLOGGING FOR $1000, ALEX....On Sunday I had a small get-together at my house for some local bloggers. Today I realized that of the 14 people there, 21% of them have appeared on Jeopardy. That's a remarkably high proportion, no?

Kevin Drum 9:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Since I assume all 14 are Californians, a plurality of all Jeopardy contestants (or so I'd wager), its not as remarkable as it would be as if it were, say, 14 Philadelphia bloggers, or 14 Minnesota bloggers.

Posted by: Paul on June 28, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Not nearly as remarkable as the fact that one of those people left 6% of themselves at home the day they went to the studio.

Posted by: Libertas on June 28, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be more interested to know how many of them have had sex with an A-list model or movie star. Hmmmm??

Posted by: steve duncan on June 28, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

On Sunday I had a small get-together at my house for some local bloggers.

That sucks. How come I wasn't invited? I could've brought in some macaroni and cheese for potluck.

Posted by: Al on June 28, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Alas. Every time I read this blog, I think about how much fun it would be to be friends with Kevin. But maybe I just wouldn't fit in with his peeps.

Posted by: tallyho on June 28, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

I met a multiple-time jeopardy winner at a party last year. I'm from L.A. He's got to be one of those guys... Wish I could remember his name. Guess I'll never be on the show.

Posted by: enozinho on June 28, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

My name is Alex, and I would be more than happy to be paid $1000 to blog.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on June 28, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

I've met a lot of Kevin's friends. To a one they are bright, erudite, talented, and incredibly good looking.

Posted by: RT WA on June 28, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Three of 14? Ha. When I meet with my parole officer, our percentage of Jeopardy contestants is up to 50%.

So there.
--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on June 28, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Is anyone else annoyed by that "HeadOn - Apply Directly to Forehead!" commercial at the end of the show?

Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

enozinho: Perhaps it was Bob Harris? He's been on the show five times (five-time winner on regular Jeopardy plus four tournaments).

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 28, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing like blogging to bring out the smarties, eh?

Posted by: patience on June 28, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Is Jeopardy the one where they eat bugs while wearing bikinis?

Posted by: craigie on June 28, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to be in the dunk tank at a college BBQ tomorrow, does that count?

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on June 28, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "On Sunday I had a small get-together at my house for some local bloggers. Today I realized that of the 14 people there, 21% of them have appeared on Jeopardy. That's a remarkably high proportion, no?"

I'd say those four bloggers-cum-Jeopardy contestants probably spend far too much time in front of various small screens, and probably need to get a life -- just like me.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 28, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'm obviously in the minority here.

Who cares? Californian disconnection from real life.

So bloggers have a much higher chance of getting on Jeopardy -- or a higher desire to do so -- than the general population. More specifically, California bloggers. So you become a blogger but your main intention is to get on Jeopardy.

I swear. Western culture gets shallower by the minute!

Posted by: notthere on June 28, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

You're starting to scare me...

Posted by: brucds on June 28, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Goddamn, Craigie.

You always see the humour.

I wish!

Posted by: notthere on June 28, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

i'll take Kevin's Odd Coincidence for four hundred...

Posted by: Maccabee on June 28, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

It IS high, but not perhaps as high as you might think.

For one thing, you're probably drawing from a biased sample. Just as you might expect very few "Jeopardy" contestants among a party of recently arrived Uzbek tourists, you might expect a rather higher percentage among well-educated, politically aware and active, upper-middle-to-upper-income residents of Orange County.

For another, calculating the probability of 3 such people at your party also requires factoring in the probability of 11 people NOT having appeared on "Jeopardy," a much more likely-seeming event. Moreover, one must consider all possible combinations of 11+3 among the 14 at your party, which makes things a little more complicated still.

As it turns out, it's still pretty high: having EXACTLY 3 out of 14 suggests that you are drawing from a population in which slightly more than 1-in-7 have been on "Jeopardy."

However, just to illustrate the weirdness of the numbers, among such a population, the probability of having AT LEAST 2 out of 14 is over 60%. And similarly, for the probability of having 2 OR 3 OR 4 out of your party having been on the show to be around 21% would require an underlying population frequency of only 1-in-16, which maybe is not so unreasonable.

It's a little like the shared-birthdays thing. If you have 30 people in a room, the odds of at least 2 of them having identical birthdays are almost 70%, and with 60 it's over 99%.

Posted by: bleh on June 28, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

That's nothing.
I got thrown in jail once and met four long lost friends in the same cell block. I don't think that was a coincidence.

Posted by: Matt on June 28, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

amongst commenters and/or readers on your blog kevin i am absolutely sure you would find several contestants--even ones who went on to play in the TOC...

Posted by: camillus24 on June 29, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Excuse me ... you can't drop a stat like that without answering the very obvious question ... at least here in the comments: Names, please!

(The jeoparsphere is dying to know!)

Posted by: curious on June 29, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Curious: Sorry, I wasn't being coy. The three are Marc Danziger (Armed Liberal), Bob Harris, and Arianna Huffington.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 29, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

The fallacy of small sample size, Kevin. Two out of 14 guests...an interesting coincidence but I wouldn't make much more than that.

Posted by: John on June 29, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Matt

After your sojuorn in the slammer
did you and your buddies hook up with kaiser soze
and some Hungarians?

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 29, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

I just realized my arithmetical error. Still a small sample, but having 3 of 14 is pretty remarkable. I guess.

Posted by: John (with egg on face) on June 29, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

WHAT IS: the question you'd ask after discovering that 21% of your houseguests guests were former Jeopardy contestants?

Was that a Daily Double?

Posted by: ferd on June 29, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin. It wasn't Bob Harris. If I find the guy, I'll be sure to invite him to your next shindig.

Posted by: enozinho on June 29, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

So you become a blogger but your main intention is to get on Jeopardy.

Notthere:

I assume you're attempting humor, or something like it.

Seriously, dude, none of the 3 had primary intentions of getting on Jeopardy, well, maybe Bob Harris, but he's kinda weird. No, really, these people are bloggers, passionate about politics (being one of the 14 I can say that we did come up with a plan to save the world, and will unveil it at the appropriate time.)

The Jeopardy thing is, well, just a thing. Pay no attention. Hey, look over there!

Posted by: SteveAudio on June 29, 2006 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

I've met a lot of Kevin's friends. To a one they are bright, erudite, talented, and incredibly good looking.

Especially naked.

Posted by: ogmb on June 29, 2006 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

When are you going to be on?

Posted by: B on June 29, 2006 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

For another, calculating the probability of 3 such people at your party also requires factoring in the probability of 11 people NOT having appeared on "Jeopardy," a much more likely-seeming event. Moreover, one must consider all possible combinations of 11+3 among the 14 at your party, which makes things a little more complicated still.

Posted by: John M. on June 29, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

Arianna H made it to Irvine for a party? Im impressed.

I was on Family Feud once. Would that count?

Posted by: troglodyte on June 29, 2006 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin must have quite a nice house.

a SMALL gathering of at least 65 people???

I wish my house was so small!!

Posted by: Neil Hecht on June 29, 2006 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Neil, he said there were 14 people there. Of those 14, 21% had been on Jeopardy. That translates to 3 people.

To be a successful game-show participant you need to be able to parse the questions (or answers) correctly.

Posted by: Irony Man on June 29, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'll take stiffy pill in Third World countries for $1000.

Posted by: Rush Limppaw on June 29, 2006 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

21% of 14 is 2.94. That's two Jeopardy contestants and 94/100 of another. I guess part of that third guy was not on Jeopardy...

Posted by: Ryan on June 29, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Our love's in jeopardy. Baby. Oooooooooo oooo ooo ooooooo.

Posted by: Blud on June 29, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Riddle me this, Ryan - why do you assume that we're not talking about three fractional (0.98) people? Or perhaps one person is actually 1.04 people, why another is only 0.92? Hmmmm? Gotcha!

Posted by: Irony Man on June 29, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I also assumed it was a guy. What an ass am I?

Posted by: Ryan on June 29, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Shocking that a self selected group of 14 intelligent people who believe they know enough about almost everything to be bloggers would have 21% who believe they know enough about almost everything to appear on Jeopardy (so that they can either make some cash from it or show off what they know). Just shocking.

Talk about non-random sampling.

In other words, no, it's not so remarkably high a proportion.

Posted by: shocked on June 29, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Suck it, Trebek!

Posted by: Sean Connery on June 29, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds interesting

Posted by: Homer Simpson on June 29, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

And think, if only you'd have invited this lowly, 100 hit-a-day blogger, you would have had 4 of 15!

There are Californians who, back when there were more game shows, made a career out of going on one and the next and the next.

Posted by: dday on June 29, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

If you assume that one ten thousandth of the general population has been on Jeopardy (which isn't far off), then the probability of getting three out of fourteen in a randomly selected group is .00000000036. It can be calculated as (14C11)(.0001^3)(.9999^11)

Some of the math in above posts is less accurate than Fox News.

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