At halftime of the 1981 Super Bowl, the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. took what appeared to be a $1.7 million gamble when it put its lowly namesake swill up against Michelob in a blind taste test on live television. Terrible idea, right? Not so fast. The marketing department made sure that all 100 of the test’s participants were affirmed Michelob drinkers, which means that even if only 25 of them jumped ship, Schlitz could later tout something like, “One in 4 Michelob drinkers prefers Schlitz.”
But still, what if Michelob swept the field? After all, it’s essentially a coin toss, right? You betcha – it could happen. But, as Charles Wheelan explains in his brilliant, funny new book, “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread From the Data,” Schlitz had figured out that it was probably more likely that an asteroid would’ve passed through one of the Louisiana Superdome‘s uprights.