Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dream Journal: November 25, 2011

I actually had a dream this weekend regarding the International LeatherSIR contest:
I dreamt that the contestants, their producers, and the contest staff were gathered together to draw numbers for contestant placement — who would go first, second, etc.  Weird thing #1: we were on the patio at the Cuff (in Seattle), not in San Francisco.
The regional producers drew the numbers rather than the contestants.  Weird thing #2: drawing for the Northwest Region were Mike Daggs and Jeff Henness (neither of who have been involved with LeatherSIR, other than when Mike’s other half Kelley was Community Bootblack). 
Mike drew #1, and Jeff drew #25, which in the dream was the last placement, despite there being 16 regions and thus there would be 32 numbers drawn.  (And that leaves out the Community Bootblacks completely.) 
I chose to take #25, leaving #1 for Northwest Leatherboy Danny, saying “No way in Hell do I want to go first!”
There is statistical truth to my dream preference.  When there is a large field of contestants, there is a judging bias that favors those who compete later in the order — this can be seen in competitions ranging from International Mr. Leather to Olympic figure skating.  (Taking IML as an example, they winnow 50+ contestants down to the Top 20 for the final portion of the contest.  The first half of the contestants are typically about a quarter of the final 20.)  Part of this is that no matter how good an early contestant is, the judges feel restrained from giving too high of marks, because they have to leave open the possibility that later contestants will be even better.  Another factor is just weariness: there is a tendency to relax the tightness of scoring as each contestant blurs into the next.

I don’t have any data about whether the scoring bias continues in an upward trend (does being last or near last in a long field give even more of a boost?) or if there’s a bell curve trend (do those in the middle half of the group get the benefit, with those near the end losing out like those near the beginning do?).

No comments:

Post a Comment