Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shades of Heisenberg!

A story about an attempt to manipulate prediction markets led me somehow to this other story where statistics and real life collided in a strange way.

In this one, a particular Harvard publication ("Who's got the Monkey") was used as a test case. People who didn't know that all the activity with this particular publication was all faked, well....
When HBSP’s marketing department analyzed the sales trends, they noticed a rather interesting trend. Oncken’s 1974 Who's Got the Monkey? was a run-away best seller! And like any marketing department would, they took the story and ran. HBSP created pamphlets and other distillations of the paper. They even repackaged those little plastic cocktail monkeys as official “Who’s Got the Monkey monkeys”. And finally, sometime in 2002, the updated version of Who’s Got the Monkey? was posted to HBSP, which was then picked up by the searching system, which, in turn, caused the “Single Result Search” test case to fail.

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