Lies, Damned Lies, and …
I was struck, during Tuesday’s Jan. 6 Committee hearings, that my candidate for “Most Idiotic Statistical Claim Ever Put Forward in Public” award – the coveted MISCEPFiP Award – seems to have played a small but important role in the now-famous “unhinged” meeting in the Oval Office.
You may recall the claim to which I am referring from my earlier posts from back in December 2020: the “proof” that it was “statistically impossible” – “less than one in a quadrillion chance”** – that Biden could have won the election without engaging in massive fraud.
**A quadrillon is an actual number: 1 followed by 15 zeroes (10^15). Other events whose probability of occurrence is around one in a quadrillion include the probability that every egg scrambled tomorrow morning across the globe will spontaneously re-assemble itself into unscrambled form.
The claim appears to have had two independent sources. One was Texas A.G. Paxton’s motion and supporting brief, submitted to the the Supreme Court as part of his unsuccessful attempt to get the Court to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Paxton, citing an expert report by economist Charles Cicchetti, actually asserted that the “probability of former Vice President Biden winning the popular vote in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin independently” is “less than one in a quadrillion,” and therefore that “the odds of Biden winning these four States collectively” was “less than one in a quadrillion to the fourth power” (i.e. 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
The second source for this preposterous claim** appears to have been the “Special Report” prepared by then-US Trade Representative Peter Navarro (at then-President Trump’s urging), colorfully titled “The Immaculate Deception,” purporting to doc
Article from Reason.com