Lies, damned lies and statistical facts jack

In this ever-swirling, curly, whirly, hurly-burly worldy world it is hard enough to find your feet long enough to attend to your laces let alone walk the walk. Times were gravity’s pull kept you sufficiently stationed and storied to know your own business enough to speak your bullshit or whatever. Now, you have to carry with you the unbearable weightlessness of information just to talk the talk. These days, I find myself barely able to identify the core of the argument through the white noise of evidence and case studies and correlations and historical precedents and subject matter experts and trends and good old boys’ opinions. And then there’s statistics. In that whirlpool, I’m drowning not waving.

Five Man Electrical Band had a hit in 1971 with the song, ‘Signs’ and its wonderful chorus, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind”. Change the word signs for statistic and that song was written for me. Mind you, to make the rhyme work you’d have to change the word mind as well, maybe to ‘breakin my heuristic’. Anyway, the road to hell, as far as I’m concerned, is paved with statistics.

Having said what I needed to say, I do understand (more than I appreciate) that statistics are an inevitable part of figuring shit out.  And they are useful insofar as you can control and temper them to your needs. So it is that even a lowly servant will, on any given day, bow to the power of the numbers machination racket. One such scullion (let’s cut to the chase and call him me) did chance upon a seemingly benign set of data that, through a deviation rapscallion’s prism (still me), could be bent to its designer’s will. I reckon any scullion worth his salt, as Bob Hudson taught us, would reckon, ‘don’t you let this chance go by, oh boy’.

I have discovered a statistic for footy followers to savour. Or ignore, your call. The season is but six weeks in and already there is a no frills trend, as yet unidentified by super-coaches and the statistically inclined (the Right to no-lifers, as I call them behind their backs). In honour of nothing, I call it the HIME, the Hawthorn Impacted Marination Effect. Stay with me. I can see you at the back of the class drifting off into a variation calculation reverie. The HIME has already claimed two scalps and not quite a third. Two outa three, as Meatloaf (measure for measure, a Statistician afternoon delight) sang, aint bad.

So, you ask, what is HIME? Well, it’s this: Hawthorn plays Geelong; lose by a bee’s dickie and the next week the Cats fall easily. Hawthorn plays the West Coast Evils; lose by a bee’s flappers and the next week WCE almost fall. Hawthorn plays the Swans; lose by a bee swarm and next week Swans fall on a petard in part shaped by the Hawks. The one constant in the equation is as obvious as it is mighty. The Hawks are marinating top sides for the next (lesser) team to carve up and serve. It’s a community in-kind service, and it keeps number crunchers on their (count ‘em) toes. In each of the games cited the opposition has thrown everything at the Hawks and paid the price … a week later.

I can’t say whether this trend will became a pattern (I bloody hope not) or fractals, but I can say, with some pride, I saw what others dismissed as nonsense. Like a mathematician daring a blackboard full of formulas and equations and chalky squiggles to dance, I dared what I saw to jive. To be fair my pattern barely did a line dance that mutated into a square dance but for a minute statistic came alive. Oh, the limitless possibilities of numbers. This could be my tipping point into the numinous. I don’t think so. I’m just ruminating at breakfast.



  1. Peter Flynn says

    R Kane,

    A very enjoyable read. Nice musical references and the HIME.

    Can it be pronounced HI-ME?

  2. Andrew Starkie says


    we need all these stats so all the footy tv shows have something to talk about.

    I heard of a new one the other day: pre-stoppage pressure.

    What’s next: pre-set shot pressure?

  3. Rick – could you please analyse the past 10 years to prove your theorum (or otherwise)? It would be fascinating.

  4. Freddo, love that song; don’t like that club.

    And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply
    So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
    He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do
    So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you

    Sign, Sign everywhere a sign
    Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

    And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight
    So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right
    To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in
    If God was here, he’d tell you to your face, man you’re some kinda sinner

    Sign, Sign everywhere a sign
    Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

    Now, hey you Mister! can’t you read, you got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
    You can’t even watch, no you can’t eat, you ain’t suppose to be here
    Sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside Uh!

    And the sign said everybody welcome, come in, kneel down and pray
    But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all,
    I didn’t have a penny to pay, so I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
    I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I’m alive and doing fine

    Sign, Sign everywhere a sign
    Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

    Sign, Sign everywhere a sign
    Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

    ©1970, 2002 Five Man Electrical Band

  5. Andrew Fithall says

    A statistical observation to add to yours R Kane:

    There is a direct correlation between a win by the Cats and the number of Cats game reports on the Footy Almanac the folllowing week.

    And of course, a loss means very few (if any) reports – at least from Cats supporters.

    ps – may there be none next week.

  6. How dare you say such nasty things Andrew.

    Regarding sleeping arrangements for June 1st, you now have been elevated to first choice.

    The Jack Jumpers nest, the European Wasp’s nest, the prickle bush or inside the composting dunny.

    ‘Ve have vays ent means’ mine little cream Pie.

  7. Speaking of reports; where is Peter B’s today. He is usually not short of a word ‘ov a mundy mornin’.

  8. Andrew Starkie says

    Andrew and Phantom,

    what you guys do in your private time is your business, just keep us out of it.

  9. Andrew, lucky the site was launched in the current Cats era of dominance or page visits would be very poor indeed.

  10. Rick Kane says

    Thank you for your comments.

    Mr Flynn, by all means pronounce it anyway you want. Would a French inflection add to it at all?

    Dips, If I had a butler I would most certainly ask them to fulfil your request for a longitudinal study. As it is, I’m a lazy guy without staff I will therefore not be able to oblige this time.

    Mr Phantom, little by little, we are finding more common ground. This could be the start … nah, forget it, you only have eyes for Cats. Make that eye.

    AF, great observations re Cats and PB. I would add one more caveat to your theorem, my enjoyment of the site goes up in direct proportion to the noise lowering re Cats

    AS, as an esteemed educator, you well know that the public is private and the private is public. I learned that from Fox.

    Cookiester, much have you to learn about stats. You have leapt (Cat like) to the conclusion you most desire. Another hypothesis would be that a flood of readers (Dog lovers and bird lovers and seafaring lovers and Gulliver’s Travels lovers and energy lovers and religious icon lovers etc) comes forward to read of the heroics and deering-do of the Brown and Gold.


  11. You’re right I suppose Freddo.

    I am certainly slinking around with my tail between my legs trying to find some place to hide.

    I got all excited when we beat the flag favourites in Round 2. Now the reality of us not being able to compete with the good sides and have shallow wins against the also rans has got me down.

    This poor cat is just about to sulk off into Knacker oblivion.

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