Born to Inveigle


One category of old joke includes law firm names like “Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.” Most of these jokes are not very good, and I prefer the baseball stathead jokes from Parks & Rec. But once in a while, you come across something perfect. Like the fact that this article (don’t ask why I needed to read it) quotes someone who works at a “a consulting agency for brand designs” who has the actual last name “Shillum.”


I Still Hate the Phillies


A remarkably stupid sentence:

“Even if confirmation bias is in play, that means there’s something to confirm.” -Barry Petchesky, On Philadelphia Fans,, 4.19.2016, available here.

The author seems to have a rudimentary understanding of confirmation bias, but does not understand how a “hypothesis” works. Confirmation bias is when one credits information that supports a hypothesis, while disregarding information that discredits that hypothesis, solely because the information supports or discredits an existing preconception. It typically refers to the exact opposite of what Petchesky is trying to describe: people seeing evidence of things that don’t exist purely because they want to see it. By the logic of the sentence above, every time a proponent of intelligent design sees evidence of the Flood, we should take that itself as evidence of the Flood.

This should in no way be read as a defense of Philadelphia sports fans. We can show why they are awful without falling for confirmation bias or Petchesky’s terrible understanding of confirmation bias.

Talkin’ Baseball


For the first time in nearly a decade, I’m starting the baseball season with optimism. I’m sure the Mets will find some way to make me regret that, but for now, here’s a distinction most baseball fans ignore:

When a batter hits a ball into fair territory, and the ball leaves the playing area, but does not do so on the fly (and at least 250 feet from home plate), the batter is awarded a double. See MLB Rule 6.09(e)-(h). The typical example of this is a ball bouncing over the outfield fence. Most fans would call this a “ground-rule double.” But it’s not. It’s an “automatic double.” A “ground-rule double” is one that is awarded based on the idiosyncratic rules of particular ballparks. Another summary is here.