How’s This for a Coincidence?

I was on an airplane yesterday, and when I landed I saw that there were about 4 million e-mails on my Treo. This meant, I figured, that Levitt had run some kind of quiz on the blog. And indeed he had — this one, asking what his wife and LeBron James had in common.

The airport I landed at was Cleveland (where James plays for the Cavaliers), and from there I traveled by car to give a lecture at the University of Akron. Akron used to be best known for rubber manufacture; these days, it is best known as the hometown of … LeBron James.

So how weird is that? I had never before been to Akron in my life. Now, on the very day I go there, the quiz question on our blog concerns a man whose name has never before been mentioned on our blog, but who comes from Akron.

This struck me as especially weird considering that Levitt blogged just the other day about the improbability of two events: Florida beating Ohio State in this year’s NCAA football and basketball championships, and the economists Emily Oster and Josh Levin growing up on the same block.

Anyone care to calculate the odds on the Akron connection?

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  1. djdawson315 says:

    Did Levitt know you were going to Akron? Maybe that caused him to Google Akron, which would lead him to LeBron, which would lead to a quiz regarding his new LeBron knowledge?

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  2. djdawson315 says:

    Did Levitt know you were going to Akron? Maybe that caused him to Google Akron, which would lead him to LeBron, which would lead to a quiz regarding his new LeBron knowledge?

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  3. markb says:

    It seems to me that, after the fact, the odds are 100%. It would have been much less had you asked the question before the first mention of Lebron James…

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  4. markb says:

    It seems to me that, after the fact, the odds are 100%. It would have been much less had you asked the question before the first mention of Lebron James…

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  5. wk633 says:

    A better odds calculation would be- what are the odds that our brains will form some kind of connection out of unrelated events? Consider the number of ‘things’ that happen in our daily lives. What are the odds that we don’t make what appears to be a coincidental connection between any two of them?

    This is the kind of thing that leads to people concluding that the Bible predicted the moon landings because some pattern of words converted into numbers by some weird formula spells ‘Apollo’.

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  6. wk633 says:

    A better odds calculation would be- what are the odds that our brains will form some kind of connection out of unrelated events? Consider the number of ‘things’ that happen in our daily lives. What are the odds that we don’t make what appears to be a coincidental connection between any two of them?

    This is the kind of thing that leads to people concluding that the Bible predicted the moon landings because some pattern of words converted into numbers by some weird formula spells ‘Apollo’.

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  7. Four says:

    Agree with wk633. Also, there is a significant difference between this example and the two Levitt posted. Here one of the two variables that have to match to make a “weird coincidence” is “open” and can be just about anything. Here it came to be you giving a lecture. In the other cases both variables were closed (limited number of outcomes) as it was two economists and two sports teams matching.

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  8. Four says:

    Agree with wk633. Also, there is a significant difference between this example and the two Levitt posted. Here one of the two variables that have to match to make a “weird coincidence” is “open” and can be just about anything. Here it came to be you giving a lecture. In the other cases both variables were closed (limited number of outcomes) as it was two economists and two sports teams matching.

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