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June 21, 2010



Surely also it's to do with the alternatives? The chance of any team winning is small, but (if they were favourites, not sure) Brazil is higher than any other. Therefore if Brazil win, it was the least unlikely victory, and hence not a surprise.

But in Italy/NZ there are only three options, and two (NZ win and draw) are (say) only 1/4 as likely as the other (italy win).


It's more to do with the fact that the odds you quote are bunk. If NZ has only once done well against Italy in the past, what idiot would say their chances of drawing was 5-1?

Further, given that there have been 16 world cups since WW2, and Brazil have won 5 times, shouldn't their odds be more like 11-5, rather than 11-2?


I agree with Matthew on this. It's like the old Feynman thing: if you see a car at random, then the chances of it having the licence plate ARW 357 are very low - but so are the chances of it having any other specific licence plate. You don't treat that multi-million-to-one-shot as a shock. On the other hand, it's much, much more likely that you'll see a Rolls-Royce, but that will seem more unusual and surprising if it happens.


Another issue - a priori, football matches are very often draws. World Cups, however, always have a winner but it's highly uncertain who it will be. Winning the World Cup is unlikely for all teams, even Brazil, but the draw is on the cards in all football.


I think the psycholgical effect going on could be described slightly differently.

what is the alternative to Brazil winning? Mathematically is is Brazil NOT wining, but psychologically the alternatives to Brazil winning are are Germany winning, England winning, France winning etc.

So Brazil winning might me the *most likely* of the range of alternatives. Which might give it a halo effect - Brazil winning is the 'most likely' outcome.

Cliff Tolputt

The odds against France winning are likely to be bountiful at the moment. Betting against England is also a nice proposition but the two bets are not comparable for obvious reasons though a mishap (for England) this coming afternoon could make them so. So what are the odds of the two likelihoods gaining similarity?

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