Goalkeepers, penalties, patterns, science…


Soccer goalkeepers routinely dive the wrong way because their minds presume trends that don’t exist, University College London scientists report July 31 in Current Biology.

To make saves, many goalkeepers begin diving before the ball is hit, says coauthor Erman Misirlisoy, a cognitive neuroscientist.

But their guesswork might be flawed,Misirlisoy and cognitive neuroscientist Patrick Haggard found after watching videos of 361 penalty kicks from the last 36 years of the World Cup and the European Cup. When multiple kickers in a row shot toward the same side, goalkeepers often dove in the opposite direction on the next kick. The kickers’ behavior, meanwhile, lacked any predictable pattern.

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“We cannot help but feel that independent events throughout life are somehow related to each other”, Misirlisoy says. “This can lead to the gambler’s fallacy”, a tendency to doubt a trend in one direction will continue, even if the odds of each direction are 50-50. An example of the fallacy occurs when a pregnant mother of three boys predicts her next child will be a girl. (1)

Guess not.
Don’t base your beliefs in what you see.
So says science.
By analyzing patterns it sees…

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