Sampling theory in American fiction

From Never Go Back:

He said, “No one is here to work with you, boy. We’re here to kick your butt and take our car and our money back.”

“OK,” Reacher said. “We can go down that road, if you like. But there’s no reason why all of you should go to the hospital. You ever heard of Gallup?”


“It’s a polling organization. Like at election time. They tell you this guy is going to get fifty-one percent of the vote, and this other guy is going to get forty-nine.”

“I’ve heard of them.”

“You know how they do that? They don’t call everyone in America. That would take too long. So they sample. They call a handful of people and scale up the scores.”


“That’s what we should do. We should sample. One of us against one of you. We should let the result stand in for what would have happened if we’d all gone at it together. Like the Gallup organization does.”

No answer.

Reacher said, “If your guy wins, you get to trade your worst truck for the Corvette. And you get half of Billy Bob’s money.”

No answer.

Reacher said, “But if my side wins, we’ll trade the Corvette for your best truck. And we’ll keep all of Billy Bob’s money.”

No answer.

Reacher said, “That’s the best I can do, guys. This is America. We need wheels and money. I’m sure you understand that.”

No answer.

Reacher said, “My friend here is ready and willing. You got a preference? Would you prefer to fight a woman?”

The guy from the half-ton said, “No, that ain’t right.”

“Then you’re stuck with me. But I’ll sweeten the deal. You can increase the size of your sample. Me against two of you. Want to work with me on that?

Stephen By Stephen

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Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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