Tackling Some LSAT Fallacies in the NFL
- Nov 16, 2011
- Advice on Logical Reasoning, Sports
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
Watching the NFL can be an annoying pastime for anyone familiar with the LSAT. Commentators, prognosticators and whoever Frank Caliendo is portraying that week can’t help but make fallacious leaps and bounds in their analysis and predictions. Sometimes it’s as complicated as “Team A will beat Team B because Team A beat Team C and Team C beat Team B,” and sometimes it’s as simple as “Team A will beat Team B because Team B stinks.” We as fans are just as guilty of this kind of erroneous logic.
That’s why I thought it would be fun to take a look around the league and apply some of Blueprint’s flaw types — like a Super Bowl of LSAT silliness. So let’s kick it off:
Chatter amongst NFL commentators indicates that the majority of fans believe Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the league. However, a survey conducted by the San Francisco Chronicle’s print edition indicates that 75% of its readers believe San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis is the best player in the league.
-Sampling. Freaking homers.
Because they acquired such big name players like Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Ronnie Brown, Cullen Jenkins and Vince Young, many believed the Philadelphia Eagles had the most talented roster in the NFL. Because their players are so good, the Eagles must be good.
-Composition. The Eagles currently have the same record as a team that has Rex Grossman on its roster.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enjoy playing home games. Because the conditions versus the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium in London were very similar to conditions at most Bucs’ home games, the Bucs would enjoy playing at Wembley.
-Comparison. What’s all this then about a 24-18 loss?
The Kansas City Chiefs could turn their season around by trading for Tom Brady, but it will cost them the next four years’ worth of draft picks. That’s way too costly, according to Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, because the team would suffer for many years to come. Chiefs fan Hank had one thing to say to Pioli: With all the experience and talent Brady possesses, can we afford not to make that trade?
-Equivocation. Typical shift in meaning. Although for the record, I would totally pull the trigger on that trade.
When John Skelton starts for the Arizona Cardinals, they win. Therefore, the second-year quarterback out of Fordham must be the only cause for the team’s victories.
-Causation. Larry Fitzgerald probably has something to do with it, no?
Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and opposing offenses should not target whomever he’s covering because, again, he’s one of the best at his position.
-Circular Reasoning. Although, I have the Jets defense on my fantasy team. So by all means, keep throwing it toward him.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says that consistency is key to his team’s success this season. But this is coming from a guy who abandoned the football program at the University of Southern California and left it in shambles, so there’s not much he knows about consistency.
-Attacking the Person. A lot of LA students aren’t going to like this one.
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers hasn’t proven that he can go an entire game without whining to officials. Therefore, he can’t.
-Absence of Evidence. Still waiting for this one, Phil.
This season, a higher percentage of Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith’s touchdowns have made the highlight reel than Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez’s. Therefore, Smith must have more TDs than Gonzalez.
-Percentage vs. Amount. Wrong-o. In fact, Smith has four and Tony G has six.
Statistically, Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. But because Tebow is just one hell of a likeable fella, he should be the team’s starter.
-Appeal to Emotion. After I wrote this one, I went Tebowing around the office.
The Playoffs (Category fallacies)
Every NFL prognosticator on television believed the New Orleans Saints, coming off a 62-7 win over the Colts, would beat the then winless St. Louis Rams in week 8. Therefore, it can be concluded that the Saints would win.
-Perception vs. Reality. Try again. 31-21 Rams.
The New England Patriots had beaten the Buffalo Bills 19 consecutive times leading up to their week 3 matchup. Therefore, they would have no trouble beating them again.
-Temporal. Oops. 34-31 Bills. Casinos love this kind of logic.
At 3-6, it’s unlikely that the Jacksonville Jaguars make the playoffs this season. So unlikely, they won’t.
-Possible vs. Definite. An error, but I’ll gladly take bets that they don’t.
Most hardcore fantasy football participants assumed Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson would have another spectacular season. Therefore, all fans must have thought the same.
-All vs. Most Vs. Some. I’m just glad I didn’t draft him.
Because he’s next on the depth chart, Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Tyler Palko should fill in for injured starter Matt Cassel the rest of the season. Palko will fill in for Cassel.
-Descriptive vs. Normative. We could always trade for Tom Brady!
Hit up the comments with any football-related fallacies you can come up with. Bonus points (or in this case, two-point conversions) for anyone who provides an example of a flaw type I didn’t touch on.
Hut! Hut! Hike!
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