Get in the Zone
By Amy Willis
Have you ever been on a roll- like a Steph Curry at Madison Square Garden roll? If so, you may have experienced the “hot hand.” Or maybe you played roulette at a casino, and you just knew which color would come up next. Are those “rolls” the same? Are they even real?
In this episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes Ben Cohen to talk about his new book titled, of course, The Hot Hand. When someone is “on fire,” what part of our nature does this phenomenon appeal to? Do we see “streaks” more because we are story-telling animals, or are we just “fooled by randomness?”
Let’s see what you think. Consider the prompts below and help us continue the conversation. As always, we love to hear from you.
1- Referencing another sports-focused episode, Roberts asks Cohen if the idea of the “hot hand” is really just the flip side of “Money Ball“. What does he mean by this? How is basketball any different than coin flipping or roulette in terms of “streaks”? Why do we come to different conclusions about Curry’s shots and the roulette wheel?
2- Why was Shakespeare on a roll in 1605? How is the story of his streak similar to that of Steph Curry? How is it different?
3- Is it better to think like a farmer or a basketball player? (Hint: think about “playing defense.”) Explain.
4- Why might “the fundamental question of investing and stock-picking” be whether the hot hand exists? How can someone like David Booth believe in the hot hand when it comes to basketball, but behave as if it doesn’t in his profession?
5- When have YOU found yourself “in the zone.” Cohen and Roberts talk a lot about their writing (and some personal sports examples). What were you doing? What do you think enables you to get into “the zone”? Can you teach someone how to find “the zone?”