I read your recent article about hockey using #fancystats, and I’m here to tell you that it was absolutely absurd and completely off the mark. While I recognize that you likely have some formal training and education in a mathematical field of some kind, as well as years, or decades perhaps, of watching the game of hockey, I would like a chance to set the record straight.
You see, I actually have no formal training in the area, nor have I ever worked in any sports related field. I have, however, read a mainstream media article by someone who shares my exact point of view on the matter, listened to hours of talk radio (except for Lowetide), and spent an immeasurable amount of time on HFOil and other high quality venues to address the matter. I am what you might call a self-educated expert in the field.
No, I have never validated, tested, or otherwise formally analyzed the issue I am pontificating about, but I don’t see how that has any relevance.
Your article was very informative; I cannot argue that. You presented an articulate and apparently factual summary of the situation. You explained your analysis, and provided the sources from where you based or obtained your information. You demonstrated quite eloquently how all of these elements worked together to help you formulate your conclusion. To top it off, you even addressed opposing points of view and showed how the evidence you provided did not support them.
There was just one problem…
Your conclusions did not match up with the ones I had come to prior to reading your material.
You must understand something. I already had a particular set of assumptions and conclusions about this based on my team affiliation and friends who are also fans who buy into unsupported myths at every opportunity. In short, I pretty much knew I disagreed with you once I read the headline.
For you to come along and present information that runs counter to my already steadfast assumptions can mean only one of a few possible options: you are part of a conspiracy to take the fun out of hockey; you hate guys like Steve Simmons because they’re so smrt; you are gullible; you either misrepresented or misinterpreted the information available; or you are too stupid and partisan to see the truth that is right in front of your face. Also, despite obvious evidence to the contrary, you are no doubt a spreadsheet-loving geek who has never watched the game.
Now, I don’t mean to suggest all is lost. I am going to sacrifice my own time on your behalf. Using the appropriate venue – Twitter, say, or oddly enough, the comments section of a stats-friendly blog – I will systematically address each of the issues I have identified and rectify them by providing you with the correct information and/or analysis. Should you choose to resist my efforts, I will simply continue to sacrifice my own time to further improve your education.
To quote an old movie standard: resistance is futile.
I have a very impressive arsenal at my disposal. If you don’t respond to my valuable insights, I have a variety of logical fallacies I can deploy with ease. Straw man argument, appeal to emotion, false cause, moving goalposts, and the loaded question are but a few of the weapons I shall deploy. When all else fails, I will not hesitate to launch an ad hominem attack at you…because you clearly lack the education or intellect to understand my argument.
If you are highly educated, I will point out that you are a stats geek, book smart and lacking real world understanding. I will most certainly reference the mainstream media and my online friends, either real or imagined, to back me up … even if I have to misquote them.
Much of this endeavor will be simple for me. Prior to meeting you on the digital dueling field, I will have obtained a series of talking points from my favorite mainstream media personality, twitter feed, or website. I will quote bumper stickers and question your fandom. I will vehemently defend the superiority of my team or favourite player, all evidence to the contrary, and challenge your criticism of them. If the player is not Canadian, I will accuse you of being Don Cherry (even though I love the guy and his deep knowledge of what really matters in hockey).
As the battle rages, I may grow weary, but fear not. I am supported by a phalanx of like-minded supporters who will empower me with supplementary posts such as “Well Said!” and “That’s the problem with stats geeks, they live in a bubble and don’t understand real hockey!”
Ultimately, I think it is important for you to know that I am not doing this to be hurtful or mean. I am doing this to help you. Your inability to see the world through the prism of my opinions and values means you are, despite your so-called qualifications, misguided and deluded at best, stupid and deceitful at worst.
You need only recognize the wisdom and importance of my viewpoints and you will once again find yourself on the winning team. Can we agree that we all want to bring the puck across the goal line for the winning score? I thought so.
As an added bonus, if you do the right the thing and get in line with my world view, I will certainly include you as a reference in a future battle to be fought online. I have to sign off now. I need to tell mom to buy more root beer.
Freddy “MOAR HITS” Wingnut
(Adapted from this delightful article at: http://www.unapologeticallyamerican.com/im-kind-of-an-expert-in-your-field/)