Going Against The Odds

You know how people say “What are the odds?”, meaning that something probably did not happen by random chance alone? I got to thinking about that saying regarding the current situation with the Mueller investigation. I read that:

  • None of the 16 lawyers known to work for special counsel Robert Mueller are registered Republicans

  • There are 13 registered Democrats on the investigation and three lawyers with no party affiliation

  • Campaign finance records reveal that 11 lawyers are Democratic donors

OK … what are the odds that this just happened by random chance? I mean, it could be just an unfortunate or fortunate happenstance, depending on your political leanings.

mueller against the odds.png

Now, to calculate the odds, we have to look at the underlying populations in the places where these folks come from. Most of them seem to be from New York, so let’s look at New York voters. By registration, 49.4% of the New York voters are Democrats, 23.9% are Republicans, and the rest are either independents or decline to state.

So … if we pull sixteen people from that pool, what are the odds that thirteen of them will be Democrats? You can do this in Excel, using the following formula:

=BINOM.DIST(successes, trials, probability, cumulative)

The name of the Excel function,”BINOM.DIST”, indicates we’re calculating what is called a “binomial” (two-sided) distribution. In this case, the two sides are Democrats vs. non-Democrats. The “cumulative” in this formula means it will return the odds of getting thirteen or fewer Democrats out of sixteen Mueller lawyers … so we set that to “FALSE” meaning we just want the odds of exactly 13 Democratic lawyers.

“Successes” means the number of Democratic lawyers, thirteen. “Trials” means the total number of Mueller’s lawyers, sixteen. And “Probability” is the chance that a random person from New York is a Democrat, which is 49.4%. So our final Excel formula is:

=BINOM.DIST(13, 16, .493, FALSE)

That returns the value of 0.007 … meaning that the odds are one thousand to seven AGAINST it being a random occurrence …

However, to be fair, we probably ought to include the odds of there being thirteen or more Democratic lawyers in the bunch … and when we do that we find that the odds jump up to one thousand to nine AGAINST there being thirteen or more Democratic lawyers on Mueller’s team.

Also, to be fair we should do a “sensitivity analysis” to allow for the fact that in New York, Democratic lawyers may be more than about half of the population of all New York lawyers. So let’s see what happens if we assume that they are say sixty percent of the population.

In that case, the odds go up to a whopping one hundred to six AGAINST the idea that it’s just by chance that Mueller’s team would have thirteen or more Democratic lawyers out of sixteen … not a bet I’d care to take.

So I fear that as a mathematician of very little brain, I’d have to say that Mueller has most definitely stacked the deck.


Glorious sunshine here today, the ocean is visible in the far distance, the world is good … and as always, the homestead requires work, so I’m headed outdoors to grab a pick and a shovel and continue digging back the hillside where it’s slumping into the house. Hey, I figure, why should illegal immigrants have all the fun?

Best of this life to you all,

w.


“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

A. A. Milne, “Winnie-The-Pooh”

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33 thoughts on “Going Against The Odds

  1. Looking at this from the UK … you are fortunate to be able to divine that much about the political affiliations of the investigators. We have to put up with bent lawyers with skin in the game being recognised in photographs at political booze-ups and NGO soirees – given how much of the Mueller kerrapp was cooked up this side of the pond – we have to look at Amercan sources to see what our own people have been up to.

    TPTB over here went as far as “D Noticing” (official UK state censorship) the DJT “Steele” dossier until the general parlance of describing it as the “Steele Dossier” became common currency in the MSM….

    Mueller is bent, his team’s bent let’s hope the continual turning in one direction leads them up their own backsides…. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “One hundred to six against”
    Or seventeen to one against.
    Those are near the same values… but they don’t sound the same.

    On the record, I agree with you. Not only is Muller dealing from a cold deck, it is frozen solid.

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  3. It’s a minor inconsistency but it did take me a minute of puzzle, review and logic to run it to ground:

    …49.4% of the New York voters are Democrats..

    …And “Probability” is the chance that a random person from New York is a Democrat, which is 49.3%. So our final Excel formula is:

    =BINOM.DIST(13, 16, .493, FALSE)…

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  4. The MSM kept touting Mueller as being highly respected. Oh, like that lying sack of excrement Comey (wasn’t he considered Mueller’s protege?). What I can’t grasp is why Sessions let Rosenstein run this. It sounds too much like an inside job of the NeverTrumpers and the Swamp. I just wish the judge would look at the Special Prosecutor law and throw all this junk out as being out of bounds. Flynn especially. This is destroying people by misusing the courts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m beginning to believe that Sessions is the very last prosecutor that you would want coming after you. Unlike Mueller, who will bully you into a plea bargain, Sessions is the guy who will keep selling you rope until you hang yourself.

      But I could be wrong

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  5. Some cancers, including political cancers, metastasize to distant sites, in this case, to distant site of the body politic. Even after removing the original offending tumor, the cells already unleashed will grow, injure and eventually destroy the once vibrant organism. The seeds for such malevolence were planted early on by those who “know” what is right irrespective of voters wishes. Although there is no cure for this seeming uncontrolled proliferation of prosecutorial adventurism, newer therapies such as targeted antibodies show promise. What is needed of course, more success with voters targeting those incumbent candidates running politically amuck. And as in cancer therapy, it may not take many (election) successes before the body politic itself mobilizes and defeats the uncontrolled ones itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

    A. A. Milne, “Winnie-The-Pooh”

    As one who was raised on Winnie-The_Pooh; long before Disney got a hold of him.. I really liked your closing quote by one of the great philosophers…

    Your post on the odds brought the following exchange between Piglet and Pooh to mind.. with Mueller being like Rabbit…

    “Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
    “Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
    “And he has Brain.”
    “Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
    There was a long silence.
    “I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”

    With all this thinking it is time for me to go find a little something..

    Carpe Diem..

    Liked by 2 people

  7. An interesting exercise in statistics… despite Mark Twain’s observation about that.

    The real problem with your analysis is that it doesn’t seem to take into account the available population of “helpers” that Mueller picked from for his team. I suspect that it skews very heavily Democrat, so the odds are probably not quite as striking as your analysis indicates.

    Still, it doesn’t seem that Mueller did random picks, and anybody who might remotely favor Trump was tossed out of the pool.

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  8. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/mar/21/donald-trump/fact-checking-donald-trumps-claims-about-Mueller/

    “We’ll also note that in the jurisdictions in which the Mueller lawyers live — primarily the District of Columbia, Maryland and New York — the Democrats are the dominant party, meaning that many races are effectively decided in Democratic primaries rather than in the general election.”

    Also, the very fact you’re raising party affiliation is quite amusing. As noted in the article, Mueller (a registered Republican) was forbidden from considering party affiliation when setting up the team. If you have specific issues with individual team members, by all means, raise your objections, but to bitch about registered Democrats in a team led by a registered Republican, purely because they’re registered to vote in the most relevant primary for them is absurd. It’d be like complaining that a team of prosecutors in Alabama were 90% Republican. Most politically active people in that area will be, because the primary is where the actual decisions are made (for example, an otherwise Democratic supporter could register Republican in order to cast a Primary ballot for the most moderate Republican in the field, in order to mitigate the chances of ending up with a far-right candidate in the General who’d win by the simple fact they’re the Republican candidate).

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    • John, you say:

      “We’ll also note that in the jurisdictions in which the Mueller lawyers live — primarily the District of Columbia, Maryland and New York — the Democrats are the dominant party, meaning that many races are effectively decided in Democratic primaries rather than in the general election.”

      Thanks, John. I understand that Democrats are the dominant party. That’s why I used the actual New York political party registration numbers, which shows that (as both you and your article say) there are about twice as many Democrats as Republicans. It appears you need to re-read my post.

      Next, you say:

      As noted in the article, Mueller (a registered Republican) was forbidden from considering party affiliation when setting up the team.

      I know that was the rules, which is why I decided to see what the odds were that he actually followed the rules … statistics says that it is very unlikely that he did NOT consider their party affiliations. The odds of each and every one of them being a Democrat are exceedingly small.

      Next, no, it’s not at all like ” complaining that a team of prosecutors in Alabama were 90% Republican.” That’s a talking point. This is a statistical calculation.

      Finally, I’m not “complaining” or “bitching” about anything. I’m calculating the actual odds. You have not pointed out one single mathematical error in my calculation of those odds, and attacking me for some imaginary “bitching” doesn’t change the math one bit. The odds of this happening by pure chance are calculated in the post, and they are vanishingly tiny.

      In any case, welcome to the blog, where all points of view are heard from without interference.

      w.

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    • Given the “NeverTrumpers” of the Republican party I think the real issue is whether they’re insiders or outsiders. The Swamp has many tentacles that extend into Law and Finance (not to mention the Lobbyists). The locations of the lawyers that you mentioned are at least as troublesome as their political party affiliation.

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  9. There is one more quote from that Daily Caller article which is strange, to me at least.
    “There is a 17th lawyer on the Russia probe, but this person’s identity and political affiliation remain unknown.”

    I think Bear has the answer. Rush put it like this:
    https://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2017/10/27/is-the-establishment-turning-on-mueller-and-the-clintons/
    Mueller is hip deep in this uranium business, having been the director of the FBI during a portion of the Obama administration, and the whole Russian thing is a hoax. There wasn’t any and hasn’t been any, and there will not be any to be found regarding Trump collusion with Russia.

    The whole thing is a CYA operation. Bad things happened in the swamp and what happens in the swamp stays in the swamp — until Trump was elected and threatened to drain the swamp. Quick, distractions and misdirections! What better cover than to have the investigation headed by a Republican. Who then chose all never-trumpers/swamp-creatures, evidently. Rules? Rules never applied to the Clintons before.

    If you really want to investigate Trump, hire the angry anti-Trump investigators, then it’s just a “coincidence” that 13 of them are Democrats.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Then again, have you taken into consideration that “The Donald” spent a lot of his life as a “democrat,” and may have chosen to run as a Republican because the deck was stacked against him to try a run as a democrat? Consider how well the Republican party hasn’t worked with him, so the deck may not be stacked against The Donald at all because Mueller has hired lawyers who are democrats.

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    • Tom, I find it hard to believe that you are serious. Mueller has hired people who are Hillary donors. They are NOT friends of the President, far from it. They are friends of the Clintons, and I doubt greatly that they care what party Trump belonged to in the past. Trump beat their chosen candidate.

      w.

      Like

  11. Is there any chance that Mueller sent round a brief that said (in purdy words) “Let’s get the Orange Baboon and string him up!” . Unsurprisingly, very few Republican lawyers took up the offer.

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