“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” -Arnold Glascow
When someone makes a shot, it’s a little instinctive to want to give them the ball again to see if they’ll make another. If they make three or four in a row, you’ll really want to ride that ‘hot hand’ as far as it will go. And if your teammate has made six, seven, or eight shots in a row, you know you’re beginning to witness something very special. There’s nothing like getting hot in quite that way.
Except, for decades, statisticians have been telling us that the hot hand is nothing more than a fallacy, the way we convince ourselves that you can better predict the results of a coin flip or a roulette wheel based on prior results. This was based in solid enough numbers, but there was a flaw: by selecting for streaks in the first place, the scientists doing the analysis had restricted their choices! When you account for that restriction, it turns out that the “hot hand” is very real.