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Boris Karloff (3) vs. Anastasia Romanoff; Lance Armstrong advances

I’m still feeling bad about my ruling the other day. . . . I mean, sure, Robin Williams doing Elmer Fudd doing Bruce Springsteen was amazing, but Veronica Geng—she was one of a kind.

Anyway, yesterday’s winner is another dark horse. There’s little doubt in my mind that Bobby Fischer, if in a good mood, could give a much more interesting talk than Lance Armstrong, but then there was this argument from Diana:

Zbicyclist gave such a strong argument for him that zchessplayer appeared out of nowhere—a testament to the generative potential of an Armstrong seminar.

You’ll have to read the whole thread to see where she was coming from here.

Also, Lance has his own statistical principle.

Today we have a battle of two people whose names end in f: the original Frankenstein and the original lost princess. Check out Karloff’s wikipedia entry, where you’ll learn a few of interesting things: he was related to an English diplomat, he was part-Indian, and he wasn’t actually named Karloff. Anastasia you know all about, I’m sure.

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!


  1. I loved being scared by Boris Karloff when I was 10, but besides that, there’s a compelling statistical and cinematic reason to choose him. He acted alongside Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (as Dr. Hugo Hollingshead, the role in which he scared me). Now, the statistician Deborah Mayo has been mistakenly called Virginia Mayo, even in the comments section of this blog! (See So we could have a Walter Mitty remake combined with a rousing statistical discussion. Who would play Walter Mitty in Danny Kaye’s stead? I nominate Thomas Basbøll, since he recognizes both the value and the pitfalls of stories.

  2. J Storrs Hall says:

    Well, the main problem with Anastasia is … she’s dead. However, we can be relatively certain that 31 or so pretenders would show up in her place. One of them might be Godunov.

    Karloff is of course also dead. Yet one has faith that if we were to patch him back together and expose him to a little lightning, he would be good to go. All we’d need would be hooks, and some wire.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Interesting match up regarding problems of identity and proof. It may be easy to act like other people (or creatures) that no one has ever met; it may be way more difficult to truly act as yourself so that others will believe you.

  4. Jonathan (another one) says:

    This matchup is made more interesting by the fact that neither one should be in the contest at all, since neither one has a last name ending in “f.” (Pratt and Romanova.) So they are both impostors. Karloff was an actor, a professional impostor. Anastasia was not an impostor, though many impostors claimed to be her. Had Anastasia lived, however, she could have been a pretender, which is also a description of an actor. So I’m asking the committee to declare both ineligible, and bring Veronica Geng back in this slot in the interest of justice.

  5. zbicyclist says:

    How would we know we had the real Anastasia, with less than 5% chance of an error?

  6. Anonymous says:

    “I’m still feeling bad about my ruling the other day.” It’s ok, winning is way overvalued in America. If he buddy Philip is beaten by DJ3, well.

    Noodles Karloff, frankly, sounds scary.

  7. Manuel says:

    A contest between a man that can tell us how to fake a statistical monster made by combining faulty noise from the graveyard and a woman that will tell us she is the signal that was hidden below heaps of fake noise…

    I’ll take Anastasia. With Boris we know in advance there’s no signal. With her, maybe we could get useful information in question time.

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