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Shameless little bullies claim that published triathlon times don’t replicate

Paul Alper sends along this inspiring story of Julie Miller, a heroic triathlete who just wants to triathle in peace, but she keeps getting hassled by the replication police. Those shameless little bullies won’t let her just do her thing, instead they harp on technicalities like missing timing clips and crap like that. Who cares about missing timing clips? Her winning times were statistically significant, that’s what matters to me. And her recorded victories were peer reviewed. But, no, those second stringers can’t stop with their sniping.

I for one don’t think this running star should resist any calls for her to replicate her winning triathlon times. The replication rate of those things is statistically indistinguishable from 100%, after all! Track and field has become preoccupied with prevention and error detection—negative psychology—at the expense of exploration and discovery.

In fact, I’m thinking the American Statistical Association could give this lady the Founders Award, which hasn’t really had a worthy recipient since 2002.


  1. Jim S. says:

    Not to quibble, but technically they are referred to as timing “chips” because they contain electronics that are registered when a participant crosses various points along the course.

    • Andrew says:


      I dunno. Perhaps the replications were conducted under different conditions. I’ll have to believe the original published claims until a consortium of NPR, Ted, Gladwell, and the editorial board of PPNAS inform me otherwise.

      • jrc says:

        This is just Andrew reminding everyone that his Snark goes up to 11. #Innit

      • Tom M says:

        I believe the “critics” have actually discovered an important new interaction effect. The fast race times occur only when the runner has lost her timing chip. This is quite surprising, yet exactly as predicted by theory. Not only does the reduced weight increase speed (p < .05), but the subtle realization that one has "lost time" gives one the feeling of being physically unfettered and not bound by social norms of what is physically possible. (Except for those who unconsciously interpret "lost time" to mean they're running slowly, in which case the opposite effect is predicted, but in either case the predicted effect is NOT zero.)

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