Patterns and Predictions 17 Streaks The predictions you make from the patterns you identify are affected by whether you believe the outcome is random or not. The assumption in gambling is that the game is random or fair. The gambler's fallacy is one outcome of that assumption. However, what if we think the game is not random? In this case, people have a tendency to project the continuation of trends instead of their reversal. A good example is the streak shooting of basketball players. Making baskets does not seem like a random event. Indeed, we want our team to feed the ball to the player with "the hot hand." This expression supports the belief that a player is more likely to make a shot after having made several previous shots. In a survey of basketball fans, 91% believed that a player has a better chance of making a shot after having just made his last two or three shots than he does after having just missed shots. [2] In addition, 84% of the fans believed that it is important to pass the ball to someone who has just made several shots in a row. Clearly, the fans believe that the shooting streak of a player will continue. But is this belief an ac- curate picture of reality? That is, are basketball players who have just made three shots more likely to make the next one? After having missed three in a row, is the player more likely to miss the next one? Actually, our opinions about players and "hot hands" are not correct. The shot sequence of the Philadelphia 76ers, during their 48 home games in the 1980­1981 season, was analyzed. On average, the 76ers made 52% of their shots. However, after a player made three shots in a row, the chance of that player making the next shot was only 46%. Alternatively, after having missed three in a row, the player made the next shot 56% of the time. The star of that team was Julius Erving. He made an average of 52% of his shots. After having made three in a row, his fourth shot hit only 48% of the time. After having missed three in a row, his fourth shot hit 52% of the time. For the 76ers, and for Julius Erving, the shot was more likely to go in after misses than after hits. Pass it to