Letter – Sloppy thinkingSelecting the final few teams for the NCAA Basketball Tournament is always contentious. This year, Arizona squeezed in, leaving several other teams unhappy.
To the editor:
Selecting the final few teams for the NCAA Basketball Tournament is always contentious. This year, Arizona squeezed in, leaving several other teams unhappy. Pursuant to Arizona winning its first round game on Friday, one of CBS’s “astute” analysts noted that the victory “proved” that the Wildcats belong in the tournament. So why is this worth writing to the Echo Press? Because it illustrates sloppy thinking in a non-threatening way.
Proof has high standards. It implies conclusiveness. All this victory did was simply offer a piece of evidence for those defending Arizona’s inclusion. Who’s to say whether the excluded contenders like St. Mary’s or Creighton might not have fared equally well or, for that matter, even better. One of the announcer’s colleagues, to his credit, did point out that the victory itself was an insufficient condition for proof.
So, now to the point: Week after week letters abuse language and offend logic. They confuse supposition with fact, possibility with proof, plausible with causal, hypothesis with theory – and wonder of wonders, the conclusions reached are tautological with the writer’s initial beliefs. I think it’s great that we have this outlet for folks to have their say, but I’d be a lot more interested in their perspectives if they themselves could draw the distinction between advocacy and objectivity.
If the “proof is in the pudding,” then at least let’s prepare some fairly rigorous pudding.