The 2018 Monte Carlo World Cup

The world cup is almost once more amongst us, which means interminable weeks of breathless coverage, punditry, and heartfelt professions that each match will be played at 110%. In an effort to inject some more quantitative rigour to a field which, apparently, could do with some, let’s try and predict how the whole thing will play out.

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Bayes vs. Paul the Psychic Octopus

Paul the octopus, for the unaware, was a true hero of the modern age. Combining cephalopodian good looks with a pragmatically sensible German name, he was the star of the show at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre. That is, however, until his tragic passing in 2010, when the world lost one of its most famous psychic entities. Over the previous two year period, Paul correctly guessed the outcomes of 12 out of 14 international football matches. Does this merit his psychic status? Let’s investigate, following this great example from the excellent book ‘Statistical Inference for Everyone‘ by Brian Blais.

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