A Quick, Bayesian Note on Deflate-Gate

Neil Paine wrote an article rounding up a bunch of the posts on the issue of if the Patriots are or have ever been Communists let the air out of their footballs.  I’m glad he did, because I was thinking about it but was too lazy to do it.  There is a lot of good information in there, especially if you go through all the links, but I wanted to focus on the “the Patriots stopped fumbling” portion of the discussion.  In my last post, I briefly mentioned that you could take a Bayesian angle to the question of if the Pats cheated in the NFC title game: do you think that they would cheat in such an obvious manner?  You can extend the same thinking to the issue of if the Patriots have been cheating since 2007 to account for their low fumble rate:  what is the probability that the Patriots have been treating their footballs since 2007 and have never been called out on it?  That’s what Bayesians would call the prior.  And it has to be ridiculously low.  Officials have spotted the ball, which means they have to handle it and could presumably notice any abnormal flatness, every offensive play in that time period, and have apparently said nothing.  Tom Brady has thrown at least 80 interceptions in that time period, and opponents have said nothing.  The Patriots as a team have lost at least 30 fumbles, according to one of those articles, in the past few years along, and opponents have said nothing.  What are the odds they’ve been cheating this whole time and no one brought it up when they literally had the evidence in their hands?  As the saying goes, extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.

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