There’s a new book on the shelves: “Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games are Won”, on behavioural economics and sport. Providing compelling evidence of referee bias in favor of home teams.
The authors asked themselves, “Are referees deliberately biased?” No, but they blame the fact that referees, like the rest of us, tend to subconsciously rely on crowdsourcing, picking up the mood of the crowd when making their decision. Or even “anchoring”, a phrased used to peoples’ tendency to be unduly influenced by outside suggestion.
I immediately started thinking of the jury selection process. Is it just me, but have you noticed as you’re going along writing the questions asked and answers given, as time progresses, the answers seem to become more and more the same? Using more and more of the same phraseology? Or is it just me? I’ve been in the prospective juror’s chair a few times in my life (and proud of it, too), and it’s hard to think of answers to some of the questions. The easy way out is oftentimes, “Yeah, I’ll go along with whatever he/she said”. I’ve heard that a number of times in my reporting life, too.
Being someone with non-conformist tendencies, while it’s not the easiest sitting and waiting for a jury to return with their verdict, my ears perk up when you start hearing passionate rumblings from the jury deliberation room. That’s a sign of standing up for your beliefs in spite of what the crowd thinks. That’s a good jury just doing their job.
One final tidbit on this new book: In baseball, a batting average of .300 is seen as the difference between a good and great batter. On the last day of the past 35 seasons, a batsman with an average of .299 has never accepted a walk to first base. Instead, they swing and either get the hit that takes them to .300 or miss, taking their average below .299. One extra successful hit in 1000 attempts matters. The average salary of a batter hitting .300 is 2% higher than someone hitting .299. That’s only $130,000!