Thought of the Week – Data vs. anecdotes
They say the plural of anecdotes is not data and it is always worthwhile to remind ourselves of this. And in some instances, it can even be fun to disprove anecdotes with data.
They say the plural of anecdotes is not data and it is always worthwhile to remind ourselves of this. And in some instances, it can even be fun to disprove anecdotes with data. It has been almost six months since the Euro 2020 and some typical trends that we see so often after big tournaments can be observed once again. Italy became champion but has had disappointing performances since. Other teams sucked (looking at you, Germany), changed their managers, and have since found new strength. And many women in England and Italy are now six months into their pregnancy and expect to give birth in March. Or at least that’s what the media like to pretend when they talk about a boom in births nine months after a team is successful at the super bowl (they are even called ‘super bowl babies’) or a major sports tournament.
Yet, if you put these anecdotes to the test, you end up with a baby’s diaper residue rather than new babies. Two researchers looked at the performance of 50 European football teams at major sports events like the FIFA World Cup and the Euros since 1956 and checked if there is a correlation between being successful at these tournaments and subsequent birth rates. And the answer is that there is a correlation, but not in the expected direction. In fact, the more successful a team is at these major tournaments, the more birth rates drop nine months later.
If you think about it, it makes sense. If a team advances far into a tournament there are more game nights and during a game night, the men (it is usually men) are less interested in spending time with their wives and girlfriends. Instead, they hang out with their mates and watch the game either live or in a pub or a public viewing space. And if their team wins, they don’t usually go home and make babies. Instead, they celebrate, which typically includes lots of alcohol making it harder to ‘perform’ once they come home to their WAGs. On the other hand, if their team gets eliminated at an early stage, many people stop watching the tournament and suddenly find themselves spending a lot more time at home than they had planned. And what are you supposed to do in the middle of June when there is nothing good to watch on TV and you didn’t book a holiday?
Based on this research, I predict that in March 2022 midwives in Italy and England will get a much-needed reprieve because there will be fewer births than normal. But if you are a midwife in Germany, prepare for a busy spring.
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