Did anyone else watch “Mathnet” growing up? It was a show in which detectives used elementary mathematics to solve crimes. Fun, but silly – or so I thought.
As I noted in my Made-up-ness Quotient post, people are bad at making up numbers – that is, when they make up numbers, they often don’t match obvious statistical patterns that appear in real numbers. Turns out that the people in charge of making up numbers for the election in Iran were also bad at it:
The probability that a fair election would produce both too few non-adjacent digits and the suspicious deviations in last-digit frequencies described earlier is less than .005. In other words, a bet that the numbers are clean is a one in two-hundred long shot.
— The Devil Is in the Digits, Washington Post
Note to future election-stealers: Hire a statistician!