Sunday, February 21, 2010
The culture of debatePosted by Brandon Isleib
How much this entry has to do with baseball, I'm not sure yet, but it certainly relates.
The more I observe, the more I conclude that for every passion in this world, there is a group that equates posturing and doctrinaire stances to purity within that passion, i.e. taking a hardline stance is the way to show loyalty to the cause or some such. Each of these passions has their litmus tests, shibboleths, et cetera to enforce this. Religions, academia, gangs, nerd cliques, political parties, and baseball writing all have manifestations of posturing, and in each area they are damaging to meaningful discourse.
Perhaps in the United States, our bipolar political system engenders this idea in other endeavors. Perhaps it's human nature. Regardless, many meaningful questions get lost in the shuffle to pick one of two sides. Some of us, as much as it pains nerds to hear, don't care about Star Wars or Star Trek. It happens.
I don't know what mainstream writers or sabermetricians hope to gain when they diss the other side. There seems to be a search for identity or brand name in it, a call to action, fealty, or orthodoxy. But for every time each side engages, it causes others to lose passion while others are gaining it. There's only so much attention span to go around, and not everyone intends to use it for debating.
I'm not saying this as a "big picture" or "let's not fight" person; I'm saying it as a call to efficiency and clarity of purpose when discussing statistics and baseball. I'd rather discuss sabermetrics than sabermetricians, and when you think about, I'm sure you feel the same.
Brandon Isleib is a lawyer and writes about stuff sometimes. He can be reached via the electronic mails.