Reilly, Whitlock and Simmons: A Statistical Analysis of the Words They Use

This involves Bayes’ Theorem and the Law of Total Probability. Strap in. The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective took all of the columns written by Rick Reilly, Jason Whitlock and Bill Simmons from Nov. 2009 – Oct 2010 and “ran a word frequency macro in Microsoft Word to determine the number of times each word appeared.”

To no surprise, the word that popped up for Bill Simmons most frequently: “Boston.”
Whitlock: “Favre.”
Reilly: “Anybody.”

A quick parsing of the charts – six of Whitlock’s 10 most-used words are NFL-related. Two are media-related. Two of Reilly’s most-used words are golf related. If you were shown the rest of his Top 10 words and had no clue who used them, you probably wouldn’t guess, “this guy is a highly-paid columnist for the largest sports entity in the world.” Three interesting words in Simmons’ Top 10 – “picks”, “trade” and strangely, “Suns.”

Unnecessary Inference and Undisputed Authorship: Bill Simmons, Jason Whitlock, and Rick Reilly [Harvard Sports Analysis Collective]

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