1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Bill James' "Popular Crime"

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Steak Snabler, Apr 17, 2011.

  1. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    It won't be released until May 3, but I'm very intrigued by Bill James' upcoming book, in which he applies the same research and analysis techniques he's used for years on baseball history to modern American crimes such as the Kennedy assassination, the O.J. Simpson case and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.


    James brought baseball statistical analysis into the mainstream, we all know that. But what a lot of people haven't realized over the years is that he's also a fantastic writer.

    Perhaps he'll begin to get his due in that regard with this book.
  2. *bump*

    It's on my wishlist, but I'm curious if anyone's read it or paged through an advance copy.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'm sure it'll be interesting, but I guess I'm a little confused about what he's trying to do. I like Bill James as much as anyone for getting baseball people to come around to a way of thinking that should have been obvious, but don't economists study crime and its effects all the time? How is he going to reinvent the wheel here? FWIW, I once had a former criminal defense lawyer tell me that the Simpson case changed everything for him. Every single defendant, even when caught red-handed, now believes that he can walk out of that courtroom a free man, and all it will take is some clever lawyering. Since crime rates continue to drop, however, it seems like it hasn't had a non-deterrent effect on crime. Maybe James will talk about that kind of thing?

    It's funny. Today I was reading "Complications" by Atul Gawande, the physician/journalist/academic. He had a section where he was discussing how much more predictive it is to just plug in formulas and factors to objectively determine if somebody needs a given surgical procedure, but doctors resist it because they want to believe that they are basically mystical healers who use their magic intuition to make decisions. You could have plugged in "baseball general managers" or "scouts" for docs throughout the passage, and it would have been completely accurate.
  4. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    I think it was Malcolm Gladwell who wrote that one of the big theories on the drop in the crime rate was the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973. In other words, since there were fewer unwanted babies born into broken homes in the mid-70s, there was less crime when those kids grew up to be teenagers and young adults in the late 80s and early 90s.
  5. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Yeah I know I'd want my doctor to cut into me based on a probability chart. And sorry, the Hippocratic oath isn't very saber-friendly
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    The computer outperforms the doctors. I think the example he used was reading EKGs. They had one of the top doctors in the field studiously go through them, and the computer beat him down. This book is written by a doctor.
  7. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    OK, spock, you base your choices on what an algorithm says, and I'll base mine on what a doctor who knows my medical history and just plain knows me thinks is best based on me. Oh, and a certain Mr. Shockley was a doctor too. So you taking what he says as gospel as well?
  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'll find the passage and type it out for you later. What you are talking about he calls the "broken leg problem," i.e. a computer might be able to predict with 99.9 percent certainty that someone will go to the movies this week. But if you know with 100 percent certainty that he is laid up with a broken leg, you win.
  9. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    Good article on the book in the recent Wired magazine.
  10. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I actually think that was in Freakonomics, but fruit from the same tree, I'd say :)
  11. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    You're right. My mistake.
  12. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    VORP (Value Over Replacement Punk)
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page