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The Secret Way To Handicap The World Cup

So as you might have noticed, we've been doing some fun photo montages to preview the World Cup live blogs. And we always run a photo of a couple of fans. Or, as one friend put it, "I am enjoying this trend whereupon 2 countries playing each other are contrasted with a 'hot chick' and a 'doofus.'"

But we had no idea that it was actually affecting the course of the games. Reader James Mastrangelo has been doing some research, and he's even put together an Excel file analyzing the results. We'll let him present his findings.

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What jumps out first is that while "Babe" pictures have coincided with only 25.0% of the teams involved in the 20 games, they have accounted for 35.3% of the wins and, perhaps not coincidentally, 35.1% of points. I'm not going to get in p factors and two-tailed tests and such here, but it appears that having a Babe picture involved correlates with an increased likelihood of a result of in the area of 50% over teams with a picture of a Dude (the Kid group serves as an effective control group, as it is about 1/8th across the board).

There are only two possible hypotheses: 1) Better teams attract more babes, making it easier for you to find pictures to attach to the live blogs; and 2) the pictures you attach to the live blog posts have some influence on the games. Initially, it would seem that the first hypothesis is more persuasive. However, I must point out that "Babe Teams" have not scored a disproportionate number of goals — 27.3%, which is only 2.3% higher than the expected 25.0% and, as such, well within the standard error. As such, there must be some other larger, subtler, less obviously discernible force that is influencing these outcomes.

Come Thursday morning, Will, I think you know what you have to do.

Deadspin World Cup Photo Record [Deadspin] (Downloadable EXCEL file)
World Cup Live Blogs [Deadspin]

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