Just one of those oddities

How is this for weird?

I have a distant cousin in the Mutual Fund business whose name is — ready?  Barry Ritholz (spelleded slightly different — his is w/o the tz at the end).

We each have brothers named Richard.

And, we both work in the same building – 300 Park! (We keep getting each others mail)


Hey Carl, what are the odds of this one ?

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Discussions found on the web:
  1. soccerdad commented on Apr 24

    OOPs “spleeded ” meant spelled??

    Good I’m glad I’m not the only one whose fingers can’t keep up with my brain – or is it the other way around?

  2. S commented on Apr 24

    It really gets creepy if a rude, arrogant, pompous,egomaniac has referred to your cuz as a blind pig on national TV.

  3. Eddy commented on Apr 24

    But what’s really strange? He wears a market sweater.

    With a T on it!!

    dun dun DUNNN

  4. Winston Munn commented on Apr 24

    When it gets really creepy is when he shows up on Kudlow.

  5. Eric commented on Apr 24

    Is he bullish or bearish right now? Then you’ll know whether he’s your evil twin or just your twin. (Twin cousin??) lol

  6. Eclectic commented on Apr 24

    Word to the wise:

    In case you end up in the hospital the same time as your cousin… and if your cousin is scheduled for a Transurethral Resection (T.U.R.), then on the morning of the surgery I would suggest that you be very alert and vigilant when nurse Bondie comes in to give your your anesthesia shot:


    You might want to take you Johnson in hand with a black magic marker and write in capital letters: “Wrong Dick”

  7. theroxylandr commented on Apr 24

    I’m glad that guy on TV is not you!

  8. Damian commented on Apr 24

    It’s clearly a fat tail event.

  9. dave commented on Apr 24

    Barry, I thought you’d enjoy this: http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2007/04/24/speaking-the-unspeakable-about-the-end-of-cheap-credit/

    Money quote:
    DJ: Why aren’t there more people out there like you, willing to talk candidly about this topic?
    JK: It’s about level of experience. Five years ago, CDOs didn’t even exist. Same with credit default swaps. There is a lot of quantitative analysis that relies on recent history, when there were few defaults. Of course, that doesn’t capture all the possible events.

  10. wunsacon commented on Apr 24

    >> Hey Carl, what are the odds of this one ?

    “Billions and billions” to one, Mr. Ritholtz.

  11. Hero_of_Rahway_High commented on Apr 24

    Darn! I forgot to post with a pseudonym…(I mean a different pseudonym than “wunsacon”.)

  12. sam commented on Apr 24

    from wall street blog:Average daily volume on the Big Board this year is 1.58 billion shares, but since the beginning of April, average daily volume has slipped to 1.50 billion, suggesting fewer investors are getting in at these lofty levels
    Right now it seems like it’s a bunch of guys selling shares back and forth to each other,” says Barry Ritholtz of Ritholtz Capital Partners. “In a rally, the dominant direction for the longer-term tends to run with expanding volume.”

    why is it that only BR is the point person out there for bears. And 1.5 bil vol is just bunch of guys?

  13. sam commented on Apr 24

    unless of course, it is BR’s cousin..then i apologise.

  14. David Merkel commented on Apr 24

    Barry, this one is very unlikely. Here’s a table from the census bureau on last names.


    Neither surname makes the list. That said, if you really are distant cousins, the odds rise a little because most people tend not to move too far from their extended families.

    Just my two cents from your friendly neighborhood actuary.

  15. V L commented on Apr 24

    The odds of this happening are slim to none — and slim just left the building.

  16. Josh commented on Apr 25

    I had a very similiar situation. I thought they were trying to pull a freshman joke on me… 1998 – I’m checking into the dorms my freshman year and there is someone with the same first and last name, only different middle names. What are the chances of that? My last name is definitely not that common.

  17. V L commented on Apr 25

    The odds of getting wrong surgery (wrong patient or body location) are about one in 113,000 (recent Harvard study based on malpractice claims filed with a large malpractice insurer from 1985 to 2004). The odds of Barry undergoing TURP instead of his cousin should be even less. (Barry and his cousin should get a red “Name Alert” bracelet upon admission)

  18. Eclectic commented on Apr 25

    David Merkel and V.L.,

    Thanks for statistical observations:

    However, statistical innumeracy among the general population is a good enough reason why if there are two Barry Rithol[t]z(s) in the same hospital, at the same time, and one is in for a T.U.R., the other one, if he knew it, would be wise to get the hell out of that hospital.

    Let me tell you why, and it’s always fun to impart to these discussions something of the philosophical.

    It’s because that while the medical staff (nurses, attendants, clerks, doctors, technicians, etc.) all clearly understand the very dire consequences of making a serious mistake of identity (such as: the correct person) or anatomy (such as: the correct leg to be amputated), they still never seem to have the same sense of commitment and involvement as the patient does, and therefore they are still prone to make these mistakes at a far greater frequency than you might imagine.

    See… it works like this. One, Barry Ritholtz, is in the hospital for, say, the flu or strep throat, and on another floor at the same time is a Barry Ritholz that is scheduled for a T.U.R.

    Now, Nurse Bondie is a surgical tech and gets sent the morning of the surgery to pick up Barry Ritholz for the T.U.R., but she goes to the incorrect floor and wakes up Mr. Rithol(t)z, glances momentarily at his wrist name tag and thinks to herself “Okay, hmmm… Mr. Ritholz… Barry Ritholz… it’s not a common name, so, yep, this must be him.” Then she gives him the pre-surg anesthesia shot and wheels his ass off to surgery to get sliced and diced, even though his wrist name tag is a ‘t’ off and his patient number was 6 digits different from the one on her order sheet. Of course the patient doesn’t know jack because he figures everybody knows what they’re doing in a hospital.

    So, the only person capable of understanding the true risks of an error occurring, and avoiding it, is the patient himself, by understanding the human nature that is prone to cause it.

    It is the same in most other aspects of the human experience, with financial services and otherwise. Most of the time people do not unite the true risks of their actions with the consequences for the persons they take the actions for. Part of the reason for that is because they can not visualize themselves having to suffer those consequences, and that helps them relegate the error to a lesser importance. The ultimate risks are the same, but they are de-linked via the innumeracy of human perception.

    In other words, if I said that one surgical identity error per 113,000 (taking your stats, V.L.) cases is probably about the correct observation, it is still true that the one error observed was still itself entirely avoidable, and most of the time the person that makes that one error made it by simply failing to take the time to unite the probability of making the error to the consequences of making it.

    I’ll also tell you that the 1:113,000 figure is probably understated, because many errors don’t lead to reports or dire enough consequences to be uncovered with claims or lawsuits.

    Consequently, should you go into the hospital for knee surgery on, say, the right knee, I would highly recommend that you take the time to write in bold ink and large letters on the left knee “DO NOT CUT – WRONG KNEE.”

    BTW, to Mr. “S” who writes me directly:

    Forgive me, but I don’t answer email sent to my Big Pic email reference address. I don’t have any knowledge of or insights about the specific issues that you raised, and honestly my friend, no influence that you seem to imply I might have. Best, Eclectic

  19. Eclectic commented on Apr 25

    Let me just say this V.L.,

    Do you doubt for a moment that after these discussions Barringo would allow himself to be in the same hospital, at the same time, with his cousin… and not give special attention to what he and his cousin were each in the hospital for?

    What say, Barringo?… Would it give you pause when Nurse Bondie came to get you for supposed knee surgery if you knew your cousin was in the same hospital and scheduled for getting a T.U.R.?… No?… How about if rolling down the hallway at the same time is your cousin on another surgical gurney?… Then?

    What about when they’re rolling the two of you into the surgery suite, and you, drifting into dreamland from the shot you got earlier, hear somebody say, “Now, the guy with the ‘t is the knee’… I think, isn’t that right, Joe?” And Joe says, “Naw, the ‘t is for the T.U.R.’ Now, just where are those orders?…Gee, they were here just a minute ago. Oh, I dunno, ask Bondie.”

    What if Dr. Benber N. Anke were doin’ the surgery?… assisted by Dr. F.I. Sher. What if you were 60 and wanted to retire in a few more years, would you want anybody to take a second look at your wrist name tag?…

    Say, don’tchew recken a little incorrectly delivered mail isn’t quite as bad as an unnecessary T.U.R.?

  20. cm commented on Apr 25

    On an entirely bickering note, in my conceptual framework, the notion of “odds” does not apply, or is not very well defined, for singular or near-singular events, and is usually defined in terms of an actually or hypothetically large enough number of repeatable draws under assumed “all other things equal” conditions. At any rate, it depends on how and at what level of abstraction the problem is posed — two people with the same name in a building and two people with a Ritholz-like name in the same building are two very different things.

  21. Eric commented on Apr 25

    When I was an undergrad, there were six people named Eric living on my floor of the dorm, including me.

    In this connection, you might find it amusing to take a look at http://www.eric.com !

  22. prostratedragon commented on Apr 25

    Contemporary NFL players known as Mark Carrier (distant cousins, I believe)>, opposing positions, never closer than within same NFL division.

    Also, two Adrian Petersons, relationship unknown, similar positions, one is in upcoming draft.

    “Mark”‘s quite common of course, and “Peterson” not very unusual, but still maybe enough to challenge one’s probability intuition.

  23. Frankie commented on Apr 25

    Here’s an oddity…the NDX broke out from a Triple Top, and nary a mention on this “Big Picture”, investment oriented blog. What gives?

  24. Incognitus commented on Apr 25

    I once had a guy with the SAME name as me (I mean the whole name, 4 words in all), at the same school, same school year, same age.

  25. David Merkel commented on Apr 25

    I have two other David Merkels working within a mile from me, and both are arguably better known. One works at a conservative think tank, and the other is an undersecretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs. They’re unlikely to be close relatives, either — my branch of the Merkel tree hails from Wisconsin.

    First time I’ve had this as a situation, but then, I never had the internet to uncover it before.

  26. Eclectic commented on Apr 25

    If you went down the roster of a class of students with 30 students in it, what would be the probability that you’d find two or more students with the same birthday, by month and day?

    In other words, among the 30, how many would you expect statistically to have the same birthday?

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