In One Eye

Thursday, May 19, 2005
 
I heard this story on the radio two days ago. It didn't make much sense to me then and doesn't make much sense to me now.
British anthropologists have some advice: Wear red. Their survey of four sports at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens shows competitors were more likely to win their contests if they wore red uniforms or red body armor.
I suppose this factoid is interesting enough as it is, but the anthropologists want to go beyond this and say that wearing red is the cause of the athletes' victories.
Scientists don't precisely known how wearing red might give athletes an advantage. But the color delivers implicit messages of vigor and danger. When people get angry, their faces turn red. It's also a reason why stop signs are red. So are most Ferraris.

A case can perhaps be made that most of the recent winners of U.S. sports championships have at least a touch of red on their uniforms: among pro teams, the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, the Detroit Pistons. And in college sports, the USC Trojans.

But it's the gracious sport of golf that offers the best example. Tiger Woods wears an iconic red shirt on Sundays, the day when most tournaments are won.
These are all interesting coincidences, but they certainly don't seem to be causatives. This is at best Bushian logic, which frequently ascribes specific effects to discrete causes.

Be that as it may, the "findings are in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature."

Am I being obtuse here, or is this really science? Any scientists reading this blog are encouraged to comment.