Four thoughts about the creation of facts

October 10, 2017
                Four Thoughts about the Creation of Facts

1.  Roger Maris

              On Twitter on Saturday some arm of SABR, perhaps oblivious to the concept of research, was pushing the notion that Roger Maris was a Hall of Famer.  "This slugger never got his due respect.  Should the 2X MVP be in HoF?" 

              You see the rhetorical trick which is being used there?   The tweeter trickster. . . .for all I know he is one of you, so I apologize for my own rhetorical excesses. . .the tweeter trickster is trying to treat Maris’ two trophies as hard facts, unassailable by review, and use THOSE to argue that since Maris was given THAT respect, he thus should have been entitled to even MORE respect.   But another way to look at it would be this:  that Maris was given two MVP Awards which he did not really deserve and, based on that, some people now want to leverage that into a Hall of Fame argument.   An equally fair and accurate Tweet would be "Roger Maris won 2 MVP Awards he didn’t deserve. Should that make him a HoF’r?"

              Let’s look a little more carefully at the issue of who deserved the 1960 and 1961 American League MVP Awards.   I don’t object to Maris winning the awards; what I object to is the happenstance of Maris winning the awards being used to leverage yet another level of recognition.  Maris in 1960 hit .283 with 39 homers, 112 RBI.   It’s a good season, but it isn’t really an MVP season, is it?    Hundreds of players have had better seasons than that and not won an MVP Award.  Dozens of players who were similar to Maris—that is, right fielders and sluggers—have had better seasons than that and not won the MVP Award.

              Roger Maris came through the Cleveland Indians’ farm system at the same time as Rocky Colavito.  The Indians kept Colavito and traded Maris because they were both right fielders and the Indians thought at the time that Colavito was the better player.   Colavito was the better player.   Colavito had a better career. 

              In 1958 Rocky Colavito had 578 plate appearances.  In 1960 Roger Maris had 578 plate appearances.   Comparing those two seasons, Colavito had more hits, more extra base hits, more doubles, more homers, more RBI, more walks, a higher batting average, a higher on base percentage, and a higher slugging percentage.   It’s not an issue of context; the American League ERA in 1960 was higher than it was in 1958, and Park Effects were similar.   Colavito just had a better year.

              Colavito had a better individual season, but the MVP contest had different entries.  Every year is different.  1960 was a weird year in the American League, in which nobody really had what you would normally think of as an MVP season.  No pitcher won 20 games.  No hitter hit .300 with 30 homers.  There’s really nobody there who looks like an MVP.   It just happens sometimes. 

              In 1961 Roger Maris hit 61 homers, but let’s compare him, again, to Rocky Colavito.   Maris scored 132 runs; Colavito in 1961 scored 129.  Maris drove in 142 runs; Colavito drove in 140. Maris made 454 outs, Colavito made 440. The park effects, again, are similar.  I estimate that Colavito actually created two more runs (139-137), but you know, that’s just a formula, doesn’t really mean anything when the calculations are that close.  Colavito had a higher batting average and more walks, an on base percentage 30 points higher, a slugging percentage 40 points lower.   Maybe Maris was better—maybe—but if so, an inch better.  

              Roger Maris was not the best player in the American League, either in 1960 or in 1961.  Still, Maris had a historic accomplishment in 1961, and I don’t object to the voters giving him the MVP Award.  It was a reasonable thing to do.

              What I DO object to is using THAT to argue that Maris "didn’t get the respect that he deserved", and that therefore he should be in the Hall of Fame.   Roger Maris got much MORE respect than he deserved, and he had nothing remotely resembling a Hall of Fame career.  His pursuit of Babe Ruth’s Home Run record became a huge media circus, a story line event.  That’s fine; baseball needs story line events.  That’s as good as the next one.  But I wouldn’t BEGIN to support Rocky Colavito for the Hall of Fame, and Rocky Colavito was a lot better player than Roger Maris. 


2.  Bernie

              After the Las Vegas shooting, Bernie Sanders claimed that "This year there have been more mass shootings than days."

              Well. . .

              The shooting was a gut punch to me because the previous day, three people had been shot and killed in an incident a few blocks from my home.   My wife and I had walked through the intersection where that crime happened about 9:45 at night, on our way home from a restaurant.   As we walked through there my wife commented that the number of bars in the area was perhaps excessive, and that the crowds of young people seemed a little bit out of control.  Three people were killed there about 1:30 the next morning.   I take the event very seriously.   I take the Las Vegas shooting very seriously.

              The claim that there have been more mass shootings than days is based on data that comes from an organization called Mass Shooting Tracker (  They are doing good work, and I don’t have any criticism of them for doing it.   But Mass Shooting Tracker counts as a mass shooting any event in which three people are hit by gunfire; in their words "Here at the Mass Shooting Tracker, we count the number of people shot rather than the number people killed because, "shooting" means "people shot"."  (It does?  To whom?  To whom, exactly, does it mean that?)

              It is the Lord’s work to document these events, and since they’re doing the work, they can count them any way they want to count them.   The thing is, though, that in more than one-third of these "mass shooting" events, no one was killed, no one at all.   In the MAJORITY of these "mass shooting events", the number of people killed was zero or one.  

              Bernie Sanders’ claim is literally true, if you accept the misleading definitions which are hidden behind it.   The problem is, though, that on hearing it said, it SEEMS to mean something that it doesn’t ACTUALLY mean, at all.  

              I am not suggesting that the level of gun violence in our culture is OK because Bernie Sanders wants to exaggerate the seriousness of the problem.   I’m not suggesting that AT ALL.   I am suggesting that this problem is way too serious to trivialize it.   When you put out garbage information that doesn’t mean at all what you try to suggest that it means, that trivializes the event.   What I am arguing is that, in order to have a serious debate, it is best not to try to mislead people. 


3.  The Stunt Derriere

              I remember when I was a kid, watching an episode of an old western on TV.   There was a scene in which an attractive young lady in a bar was pretending to be naïve, and was lured into a poker game.  As soon as she touched the cards she did what I think is called a riffle shuffle, her hands flying so rapidly you couldn’t follow the movements, revealing that she was not actually inexperienced at this whole card playing thing.  When this scene appeared on TV, however, the person I was watching with pointed out to me that it was obviously not the actress who had actually done the shuffling; they had "zoomed in" on her hands, and substituted another actress for her, somebody who was more experienced at shuffling cards.   This was a new concept to me at the time, that actors were substituted for other actors at key moments.  

              I am sure I am no different than any of you in this regard; I instinctively watch movies for body doubles and stunt doubles.   Don’t we all do that?   We all want to know when we are being tricked.  We all (I think) look instinctively to see whether a politician is wearing a hairpiece.   When it is poorly done and we can easily spot it we are irritated; when it is well done and difficult to spot we respect the effort.  

              Well, there is a commercial running on TV now, the "You know she’s having a boy, right?" commercial.   I’m not sure what it is a commercial for, maybe a car.   A lady picks up a cake for a baby shower, but she picks up the wrong cake and has to run back to the baker’s double-time to pick up a boy cake instead of a girl cake.  

              The commercial features a young mother with an extremely cute face, and there is a scene in the commercial in which she is seen racing into the bakery in high heels, and she also has.  . .well, she looks really good from behind.  

              The thing is, though, that somehow I became fascinated by the notion that I was being tricked here, that the lady with the cute face and the lady with the cute behind are not actually the same lady.   I think they are using a Stunt Butt.  I don’t know whether this is true or not; I haven’t been able to reach a definitive conclusion.  Whenever the commercial comes on I focus on it like a laser, paying no attention to whatever the hell they are trying to sell me, but focusing on the question of whether I am being tricked into thinking that this one actress looks great from both sides, when it is actually two different actresses.  I am not. . .I am not obsessed with this question.   I am fascinated by it.   IF there is a substitution, it is very well done, but at the same time, one can see clearly where the substitution took place if there was a substitution. 

              I don’t know why I am writing about this; it just seems relevant, and I would like to solve the mystery.   Would a commercial actually do that, you think—substitute a stunt butt for the lead actress in the commercial?   Is that commonly done?   DID they do it?   What do you think? 


4.   Your Own Facts

              Daniel Patrick Moynihan liked to say that everybody is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.   This has become a trope, and we hear it every day now.  

              I think it’s kind of a silly thing to say, actually.  It’s a silly thing to say for two reasons.   One is that the world is so complex that there are billions and billions and billions of facts available to us.  We don’t actually KNOW which facts are most relevant to any debate; we don’t.   Each of us is entitled to choose those facts that they believe to be most relevant.   It is entirely wrong for anyone, in a political debate, to try to deny their opponents the right to choose those facts that they believe are most instructive.   No one has a right to do that.

              The second problem is that "facts" are. . .well.   All facts depend on underlying information. When the Mass Shooting Tracker defines a Mass Shooting as any event in which three or more persons are hit by gunfire, they then reach the "fact" that there have been 374 mass shootings in the US this year.   But if another organization were to define a mass shooting as any event in which four or more persons were killed, they would then reach the conclusion that the number of mass shooting events in the US this year was more like 25.   One number would be no more accurate than the other.   One "fact" is no more a fact than the other. 

              The real issue is, to what extent does this "fact" describe the underlying reality?   The problem with the "fact" that Roger Maris won two Most Valuable Player Awards is that it suggests that Maris was the best player in the American League at that time.   The reality is that he was not.  The fact suggests that Maris was on a level of greatness comparable to Joe Morgan or Frank Robinson or Frank Thomas or Miguel Cabrera.   The reality is that he was nowhere NEAR the level of player that those guys were.  

              When people say that not everybody is entitled to their own facts, what they usually mean is that you have to accept my facts.  No, I don’t.  I don’t have to accept your facts, and I have no intention of accepting your facts.   The fact that you would say such a thing indicates that you are either an asshole or an autocrat or a would-be tyrant.  You are trying to control the discussion by controlling the facts.   No one has any right to control the facts.     

              And the advertisers. . .well, you can assume that they are conning you.   That’s their job.  But you should not assume that sports analysts or sports researchers were conning you, and you should not assume that politicians are conning you.    It is a sad note that this has become so commonplace. 




COMMENTS (111 Comments, most recent shown first)

"The MSM thinks they are talking to children."

Backstop, I agree with this but I would add: so do the non-mainstream media and so does Trump. (Or maybe he is one.) His response to a stupid question, out of many alternatives, is to make an unsupportable assertion about his predecessor. The descent of political discourse in America to the level of the playground has many authors, but Trump is the first president to be doing his best to keep it there.

(In passing: I think it actually goes all the way back to Watergate, when many in the press discovered that it was much easier to report on scandals than issues.)
4:15 PM Oct 18th
The calling the troops thing is a classic microcosm of the whole case.

Some CNN reporter yells out a gotche question "Why haven't you called yet?" (subtest: Ah-ha! Got you!"

Trump stammers around in a dog ate my homework way and says he is going to, or maybe write letters, or maybe he wrote letters, and besides, others presidents wrote letters.....blah blah.

This, with all that is going on in the world, I won't bother listing, becomes the Story of the Day to CNN et al. Ah-ha! Trump secretly is anti-troop! Ah-ha! He lied about Obama!

And the adults in the moderate middle roll their eyes and say, who cares? Does anyone think Trump is less into the military than CNN and Obama? No, it is stupid on the face of it. Trump doesn't lose one vote, and the hate-blinded MSM scrambles off like a pack of junior high school mean girls with a piece of dish they will nurse and coddle all week.

The MSM thinks they are talking to children.

3:56 PM Oct 17th
Marc Schneider
I think Trump has made specific untrue statements that are simple lies. He lied about Obama never calling the Seals. He has lied about a lot of stuff.

Other stuff isn't necessarily a lie; he is saying stuff that people believe or want to believe without having any evidence. It may not be completely false but it's often an exaggeration at best. But it's what a certain segment of the population believes and they like having their beliefs confirmed by Trump.

Several months ago, a friend (well, someone I play tennis with) circulated an item about an ostensible illegal immigrant who was getting all sorts of benefits, etc. It seemed to me that, at best, this was a gross exaggeration and most likely made up completely. But when I asked where is the evidence that this person actually exists, my friend said, in effect, it sounds true even if we can't prove it. I think that's what Trump really traffics in; to quote Rod Serling, in the space between the pit of men's fears and the summit of their knowledge. You can't really say this piece is a lie because maybe there is such a person out there. But there is no evidence presented that it is true.

But to be fair, it's not only Trump and the right that does this. The left does it too, creating memes about various social injustices that may or may not be true, but that sound right to people that want to believe. These aren't really facts either in a lot of cases or, at least, are exaggerations.
8:33 AM Oct 17th
I think that Bill is misinterpreting the Moynihan quote. Clearly, it is a witticism, and not to be taken entirely seriously, but the gist what Moynihan is saying is a rebuke to people who MAKE UP their own facts, without evidence, such as saying that "three million people voted illegally in 2016".

I never thought that Moynihan was trying to say that people could not pick and choose amongst various facts to find the ones that best support their argument. He was in fact, himself quite adept at doing just that.

You could paraphrase Moynihan as saying "You state this as a fact, but where is your evidence?"
3:50 PM Oct 16th
Jeff, you're as capable of going to as I am. Once again, I don't do social media, which includes Twitter.

But if you don't want to bother looking, consider just the lies being told about the proposed tax bill, specifically about the inheritance tax, more specifically about people losing their farms--and of course the most outrageous howler, the one about repeal not benefiting Trump. We don't know, of course, just how much is involved, since he won't show us his tax returns, but estimates of the benefits to his heirs start in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Again, though, it's not about the details. It's about the debasement of political discourse. I didn't really think it could get lower than Bill Clinton, but he's an amateur in comparison, when it comes to pandering to his supporters. George Will wrote about it here:​1e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html?utm_term=.41fb5a64201a
9:05 AM Oct 16th
Very few neutral observers are going to be interested in directing to an outside org like If I point to HotAir are you headed over? No.

Again we’re missing the very POINT, that Trump might fail a fact-check and yet offer a very important idea. My suggestion was that you re-boot from your unemotional, scientist’s point of view, take a clean sheet, and review Trump’s recent tweets to see whether there is any merit in James’ suggestion.

Plot spoiler: there is merit, yes. ;- ). Trump is not nearly the bare-faced liar he is accused of being.
3:44 PM Oct 14th
Steve, I’m sure you aren’t over-emotional. The quote abour ‘one bare-faced lie after another’ is.

James offered a nuanced, interesting way to process Trump’s statements and you responded with ... anger and categorical refusal to consider James’ paradigm. It doesn’t make you an emotional person :- ) but that particular response was clearly driven by anger, rather than by analysis. Neither did you respond to my suggestion to go back through Trump’s recent Tweets and give an example of a string of bare-faced lies.

This is part of the problem, that those who are angriest at Trump credit themselves with dispassion and nuance. If Trump’s opponents wern’t so busy trying to ridicule him, we might be able to exchange ideas about him.
3:37 PM Oct 14th
Apologies, the Twitter post I referred to was not cited here but over in Reader Posts. Here's the link:
10:40 AM Oct 14th
Nobody who knows me would describe me as over-emotional. Some might even use the word 'cold'.

Sorry, Jeff, I don't do social media, so I can't check the President's tweets. I did follow the link from a comment somewhat below this one (the tweet about Americans following God, which suggests the author is a hypocrite as well as a liar and a panderer); while I found the follow-on comments entertaining, I saw nothing there that would move me to join Twitter.

Instead, I see parsing Trump's statements and coming up with one untruth after another (a service they provide to politicians of both parties, but Trump keeps them busier than any six of the others). There is absolutely no excuse for this, especially not that he's telling his base what it wants to hear.

Goodness knows, not all of our presidents have been honorable men, but two of the last four have come in so far below expectation that I fear that America, which was once so proud to be considered a moral nation, has simply lost its way.
8:58 AM Oct 14th
Brock Hanke
jwilt - The after-dinner speaker thing is in the Lefty Gomez comment in the New Historical. Gomez was legendary for his stories.
12:45 AM Oct 14th
Steven Goldleaf
Is it a "fact" that steve161 is "over-emotional"?
9:26 PM Oct 13th
Trying to avoid a triple-underline here :- ) but I am 100% convinced you'll find the key to Trump's victories in Sun Tzu:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” - Sun Tzu, Art of War

Coming from Manhattan, Donald Trump understands that crowd quite well. On the other hand, what does Rachel Maddow understand about Trump, about his goals, agendas, and methods? Her response would be, "There's nothing TO understand."

Trump "gets" his enemy; his enemy does not "get" him. Per Sun Tzu, that's a major advantage.

Alternatively, we could just say Trump has a four-leaf clover. :- )

4:17 PM Oct 13th
When two people are debating, that debater has a huge advantage who takes his opponent seriously. Thomas Jefferson emphasized this.

I often wonder whether it is more important to the hard left to *prove Trump wrong* or more important to *ridicule* him. It seems many people would much rather ridicule him and lose, than to "normalize" him and win.

He wouldn't be very hard to defeat, guys. If you prepared against him seriously.

Have a good one,
3:54 PM Oct 13th

++ Incredible. Our president tells one bare-faced lie after another, and because his base eats it up, we're being told to treat it as some sort of higher truth, rather than pandering. ++

No, you're being asked to take a second look at your own *over-emotional* paradigm.

Beginning with his most recent, why don't you scroll through some of the President's most recent 20, or 30, or 50, tweets, and select a sequence of three that proves your point about "one bare-faced lie after another."

What you might find, if interested in giving James' point here a cursory investigation, is Scott Adams' idea about two movies playing on one screen.

Consider e.g. the President's Tweet "Hard to believe that the Democrats, who have gone so far LEFT that they are no longer recognizable, are fighting so hard for sanctuary crime" which is one of his most provocative tweets lately. But *are* there people who feel the Left has moved too far out to the side? The internal Berniecrat-DNC war is all *about* that. Is the left fighting to protect undocumented criminals from being deported? It is. Trump wants the USA's attention on these things.

It's part of the reason he won in 2016, and it's part of the reason he keeps winning (as in his personal fight against the NFL, Steph, LeBron, etc.)


Trump is not an honorable President, does not possess much integrity compared to the guys on Mt. Rushmore, is not a politician that I am proud of. Rather, I'm ashamed of him.

But! This constant ridicule of him, the dismissal of him, this idea "he merely tells one bare-faced lie after another" is precisely the attitude that is handing him the country.


3:50 PM Oct 13th
Marc Schneider
He makes an observation about the word "fact", in the way we use the word today: a bit of data about the world which is seen as well-established and non-controversial.

Kyrie Irving said he believes the earth is flat; presumably there are others that believe that. Does that make the issue of whether the earth is flat or round "controversial" and therefore not a "fact"? Do we have to then define what is meant by "controversial"?

I agree that facts are not as straightforward as we would like to think. For one thing, people can agree on facts but disagree as to what they mean. You see this all the time in historical writing and the way you present a fact has a lot of do with how someone perceives it. For example, Jim Bouton once came out with an anthology of stories about big league managers. There were two stories about Leo Durocher; one story, premised on the idea that Durocher was a great manager, mentioned that he won x number of games, pennants, and a World Series. The next story noted that Durocher had won only one World Series. It is clearly a fact that Leo Durocher won a World Series as manager, but the significance of that fact (ie, whether it proves he was a great manager or was overrated) is up for interpretation. I'm sure you can do the same thing with Maris' stats. Same thing in politics; you can look at the unemployment rate, for example, as being either low/improving or high/increasing.

What disturbs me about the way things are going today is that there is such a gap between what both sides perceive as reality, ie. "facts" that it's hard to even have a conversation. There simply is no way to persuade people whose views of reality are diametrically opposed.
1:45 PM Oct 13th
Marc Schneider

"When he tweets one of those things, the MSM spends 3 days "fact-checking" him and "proving him wrong" while the eyes of the U.S. electorate are on a point that has a lot of traction. "

Now, this is an example of exactly what you are referring to, ie, that a "fact" can be used to make a point that is not accurate. The statement is true for "some" part of the US electorate but not necessarily for "the" US electorate. If you were to say, "while the eyes of some part of the US electorate . . ." it would be more accurate, but would be less persuasive in terms of what you apparently are trying to say. As a matter of fact, I think saying "the electorate" believes virtually anything is almost inherently inaccurate.
1:24 PM Oct 13th
Incredible. Our president tells one bare-faced lie after another, and because his base eats it up, we're being told to treat it as some sort of higher truth, rather than pandering.
1:15 PM Oct 13th
I hadn't thought of this before, but Maris' last comment triggered it: You know Bill sometimes refers to those guys who'd go on the dinner speaking circuit in the 50s and 60s. Maybe Red Ruffing was one he's mentions (I could be wrong, but I remember a pitcher from that era). They'd tell all kinds of stories at dinners to Elks Lodges and Fryers Clubs and the like. Many a tracer in Bill's books (and Neyer's, I'm sure) have their roots in these stories. And the tracers usually are fruitless, or at least they can only find games that vaguely resemble the story.

That's Trump. His main goal is to get the Fryers Club to think he's awesome. It's in his best interest to talk about how Bill Terry once got 11 hits in a doubleheader where he started game two, and the last one a game-winning homer that landed in the lap of woman holding a chicken. Feathers flew everywhere! The crowd eats it up, he feels awesome, and until Neyer writes a new book nobody cares that no such thing ever happened.
7:08 AM Oct 13th
" should not assume that politicians are conning you."

Maybe the silliest sentence I've ever read.
12:25 AM Oct 13th
.....back to that other thing, about wrong facts sometimes leading to truths:

Another example of.....well I'd rather say "an" example, rather than "another" example, because I can't buy it about example of that is: many of those baseball anecdotes that are shown by "Tracers" to be full of mistakes.
Not all of them, but many of them.

Bill wrote about this a while ago, I think in Hey Bill.
He pointed out that many such stories, even while containing untruths, still accurately reflect real aspects of personalities or teams or moments.
11:10 PM Oct 12th
Bill James said,

++ And it is just God Awful. It is beyond description how bad she is. She whines endless about how women are treated. She complains about being unfairly treated by the media. She has NO concept--NO concept--of why she lost. She's delusional. She's paranoid. ++

The GOP is locked in mortal combat with itself, the institution (swamp, e.g. McConnell) vs the live-wire nationalists and populists (e.g. Bannon) and it's not at all clear who wins, or even what compromise will come out of it. As Bannon said, "They're not going to give the country back without a fight."

The DNC is locked in mortal combat with the institution (the Clintons) vs the live-wire militant progressives who wish the Clintons would go away. She won't.

Female feminists can be divided into 2 camps: those women who resent being born women, and those who don't (many of these latter types vote GOP). If you view Hillary for a few interviews through that lens, one in which she resents not being born a man, a lot of things make sense. Not all, but some.

Identity politics is a loser right now for the DNC, but Hillary is a very strong force for those who wish to view most of USA politics through that lens.

My two cents,

11:06 PM Oct 12th
Returning, if I may :-) to the 1960 A.L. MVP vote, this time without any mention of 'that guy.'

The argument in the article hinged a lot on the idea that nobody had a clear MVP season, and, at least as stated in the article, this was based on offensive numbers. Nobody here would disagree that "MVP" can be strongly based on other things; I'd guess that a big reason the article gave such emphasis to the offensive numbers is the idea that at least back then MVP voting generally was heavily dependent on offensive numbers -- not invariably, as witness Marty Marion's win, but generally -- sure.
But one of the things about that 1960 A.L. MVP vote is how much it shows that they weren't going so much on that. One could argue that this just supports the idea that nobody had a real MVP year and so they just flailed around, which would be a guess. On the other hand, I'd suggest that the pattern of the voting shows, not merely as a guess, that they were looking at MVP in quite a different way than that, I'd say a more sophisticated way. This may have been one of the most ahead-of-their-time MVP votes.

Brooks Robinson came in 3rd, actually pretty close to those top 2 guys. Those other 2 dominated the 1st place votes but Brooks must have gotten a lot of 3rd's (in addition to three 1st's), because his total was so close to theirs. Brooks hadn't yet established any immortality, but he was recognized as an outstanding fielder -- it was the first of his 16 Gold Gloves. He had a decent hitting season; he was second in the league in hits and he cracked the top 10 in RBI's (with 88), but he wasn't anywhere near one of the top hitters. His strong-3rd finish clearly was about recognition of his fielding. And look who finished 5th (behind Minoso, who was a strong 4th with his usual Minoso year) .....look who finished 5th: another Oriole, Ron Hansen, a rookie shortstop who had batted .255 -- with decent other numbers, to be sure, including 22 HR's, but .255, and nobody thought of him either as one of the top hitters. He shows very well on Win Shares - he led his team (ahead of Brooks) and was among the several who tied for 3rd in the league behind those other two. Of course the voters didn't know about any such thing. Win Shares adds sophistication to the numbers; evidently the voters put their own sophistication into their voting, or else we'd never have gotten Ron Hansen being 5th.

As Bill noted, nobody else had MVP-type basic numbers (actually he said those top 2 guys didn't either). But you had guys like Jim Lemon who went 38-100-.269 and Roy Sievers who went 28-93-.295, and they didn't come near Brooks and Hansen; and Pete Runnels who won the "batting title" as a second baseman, with .320, which I'd say would have been expected to land a guy very high in the MVP voting if the concept were so heavily the basic numbers. (He was 17th.)

The very nature of that vote would appear starkly to indicate that it's kind of folly-acious to try to talk so simply on the basis of hitting numbers about whether something was or wasn't a strong MVP season. It just wasn't being looked at that way. The voters were doing an unusual and sophisticated job at looking at the players, which, yes, you could say was only because nobody went 45-120-.300. But that doesn't negate that they were being sophisticated and were going beyond mere numbers, and really I'd say it's not clear at all that in such an environment a player who went 45-120-.300 would have come in 1st.
11:02 PM Oct 12th
++Great and interesting thing about using accurate points to lead to untruths, vs. the reverse. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it articulated before. ++

Right. For example "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" is accurate but not true. At Boeing we had an expression, "true but not accurate" (an inimportant inversion of the phrasing) to refer to statements like that. The statement holds up on the face of it, but it leads the listener to believe the opposite of what the listener SHOULD believe.

Trump inverts this idea exactly: he makes sloppy, or exaggerated, statements that do NOT pass fact check but which DO have the audience thinking in a way that is directionally on-target.

1. Hillary is the most crooked politician in the history of the USA
2. Business-owner and consumer confidence are at a 20-year high
3. As SoS hadn't done a thing
4. Mexico is sending its criminals across the border

When he tweets one of those things, the MSM spends 3 days "fact-checking" him and "proving him wrong" while the eyes of the U.S. electorate are on a point that has a lot of traction.

One way to put it is, Trump's enemies take him "literally but not seriously" while his supporters take him "seriously but not literally." The very fact that he means what he says, is what has everybody scared about what he'll say tomorrow.

- Jeff

10:40 PM Oct 12th
(A couple of separate unrelated things:)

-- Great and interesting thing about using accurate points to lead to untruths, vs. the reverse. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it articulated before. It makes me think back to a dispute I was involved in, years ago, in which I'm realizing that I was taking basically the Hillary tack. I was right about all the facts while the other side wasn't doing a great job in that department, but what my facts led up to wasn't really that true. I don't agree that Trump is ahead of Hillary on any such thing however we want to look at it, but it's an interesting and illuminating principle.

-- re: "SHE gave us Trump, by conspiring with Debbie Wasserman Schultz to steal the Democratic nomination, thus giving the American people a choice between two god awful candidates." -- Bill, that seems to be implying that Bernie Sanders would have won a general election. I don't think that can be assumed at all, and I wouldn't guess that you really do.
9:55 PM Oct 12th
It is very *important* to the typical leftist to regard Trump a pathological liar. Alternative paradigms can not and will not pass the cognitive-dissonance barrier such a person has spent 24 months reinforcing.

Both Obama and Trump are VERY OBVIOUSLY sincere in what they say; a glance at their court appointments makes this clear to anyone of minimal intelligence. But the question is not intelligence; the question is that our houses of cards collapse if we for a moment consider that perhsps the other side means what it sats (and it does).

A cin man DOES NOT MEAN WHAT HE SAYS. Trump does. When he tells Kim his life is at stake, he means it. That is precisely the difference between Trump and other Presidents, the reason everyone becones so shrill over every Covfefe tweet.

True, Clinton enjoys passing the technical fact-check when he states the 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman' and Trump cares 0.00% for fact-checks as Clinton and the MSM means them. But when Trump says 'We will have a wall 30 feet high' there is a reason the left gets real shrill, real fast.

7:45 PM Oct 12th
(I don't see the difference in what you're trying to clarify -- it's hard to 'read carefully' what you had said because the sentence is kind of awkward -- but no matter; we're on a similar page.)
4:57 PM Oct 12th
Read the sentence carefully. "She was sort of "given" this role of Senator, wildly experienced pol that she didn't really earn." It's the role she was sort-of given. I'm with you, I admire her too in many ways, and it takes courage to say that in this forum. But the experience people credit her with has got some puffery on it. That's my last word on politics in this thread.
4:48 PM Oct 12th
That's not fair, and I'd say not accurate or 'factual,' to say that Hillary was "given" this role of senator.

Whether or not one liked her or wound up voting for her, she very much earned it, or at least worked very very hard for it and showed remarkable and striking results of that work. When she first became a candidate there was wide skepticism; not necessarily resistance or eyebrow-raising, as there was when Caroline Kennedy was floated as a possible senate appointee when Hillary went into the cabinet, but absolutely skepticism. She worked hard at learning about the state and getting to know it (those are separate things). There was no impression of 'entitlement' on her part; well OK, that's an opinion but I can pretty safely say there was little if any, and I'm comfortable saying none. People on all sides of the aisle were impressed and somewhat awe-struck by what she put into it and what she showed.
4:15 PM Oct 12th

From article below

Having said that, I think it's beyond doubt that Hillary knows a lot of about policy and is trying to move the ball forward on children's poverty issues and stuff like that.

Well, I doubt it. I don't see any evidence that she knows ANYTHING about policy. She didn't propose any coherent policies, at least in the public debate. Perhaps she published policy papers, but one assumes that staffers write those things, which is why nobody reads them. But in the public debate, she just talked about how much she loved the children. Everybody loves children; that isn't a policy. It's a pathetic excuse for a policy.
4:13 PM Oct 12th
As an Obama partisan in 2008 I do actually get the reasons that people wouldn't like Hillary. She was sort of "given" this role of Senator, wildly experienced pol that she didn't really earn. Obama's resume at that moment wasn't very long either but I really tired of people granting Hillary the "experience" edge compared to a state Senator of 11 years or whatever Obama was at that time. Having said that, I think it's beyond doubt that Hillary knows a lot of about policy and is trying to move the ball forward on children's poverty issues and stuff like that. Bill ended his article with an appeal to resist cynicism -- I think focusing on what Hillary sounds like on TV has a whiff of that same cynicism. The people who like her aren't partaking in that cynicism. The candidate Bill finds so honest routinely tells whoppers of immense magnitude all the time. I agree Hillary is guilty of playing that narrow "small accuracy" game but I don't get how Trump gets a pass when a majority of the things he says are just huge capital-L lies.
2:34 PM Oct 12th
The evidence on election-stealing is very, very thin and that comment undermines all the rest of the stuff you were saying.
2:29 PM Oct 12th
Steven Goldleaf
I'd take "horseshit" as President at this point.
2:22 PM Oct 12th
I'd take Whitey Herzog as President. He'd set the press conference record for most uses of the word "hor$eshit"​
12:51 PM Oct 12th
bad move
12:48 PM Oct 12th
Hell, I'd take Marisfan as President.
12:27 PM Oct 12th
I'd take Maris as President, though I would still oppose his selection to the Hall.
12:27 PM Oct 12th
I heard one commentator say that Trump's residual support comes from the one thing he has done well, which is not being Hillary.

It was the only reason huge percentage of people voted for him. And whatever else he has done he has good job of not being Hillary.

This rings true for me because all of the Trump voters I know personally fell into this category - they were voting against Hillary, and while they don't like Trump they remain happy that she isn't president, so they stand by their vote.

The question is how do get somebody better we can vote FOR. This was a vote-against election.
12:26 PM Oct 12th
I'd pick the 20 year old Maris, and trade him at age 28. What? Did I make up my own rules, Whitey? Was that wrong? We're in a hypothetical universe, man.
11:46 AM Oct 12th
In Whitey Herzog's "Missin A Great Game", he rants on how Maris should be in the Hall. He sums his argument thus: If you could draft a 20-year Roger Maris or a 20-year old Pete Rose, who would you pick? To Whitey everybody would obviously say Maris.

That hypothetical may be true, as I think most people would take the 20-year old power hitter over the 20-year old spray hitter, but it's a silly argument because it ignores the actual results. Maris was a good player who was done by 33. Rose had 1900 hits AFTER he turned 33. Even if you include Rose's crappy compiler years at the end, he still averaged .296/.374/.383 after he turned 33. Maris was no Hall-of-Famer
11:34 AM Oct 12th
Brock Hanke
scott ham - As the writer of the original comment about movie doubles, I appreciate the input. The few guys I know do mostly movies or tech-heavy commercials (one of them spent two years doing the Rube Goldberg devices on Home Improvement). They know about doubles and set-days mostly from movies.
4:01 AM Oct 12th
It is accurate to say that I loathe Hillary. Actually, as I write this (1:13 in the morning) I have Hillary on the TV; C-Span is running her interview with the owner of Politics & Prose bookstore about her book, and I have had this on for an hour or more.

And it is just God Awful. It is beyond description how bad she is. She whines endless about how women are treated. She complains about being unfairly treated by the media. She has NO concept--NO concept--of why she lost. She's delusional. She's paranoid. God; she is worse than Trump. OK, she's not worse than Trump, but she is unbelievably weak and whiney and FAKE and insincere and self-righteous. She has NO good qualities that I can see. And the woman who is on with her is just relentlessly trying to kiss her ass, in the exact same way that the Trump's lackeys spend all of their time trying to kiss his ass. SHE gave us Trump, by conspiring with Debbie Wasserman Schultz to steal the Democratic nomination, thus giving the American people a choice between two god awful candidates. I am embarrassed to have voted for her.
1:25 AM Oct 12th
Over the last year or two I have had a lot of trouble absorbing Bill's loathing for Hillary (and occasionally of Dems as well). That may be unfair of me but it's my take. This thread has had the benefit of clarifying the reasoning behind Bill's views a bit, which is a good thing.
11:50 PM Oct 11th
I agree with Bill on Hillary Clinton. Small truths, big lies.

On Trump, the opposite of that is what he was sold as, but in reality his relationship to the truth, big and small, is tenuous. His relationship to reality is tenuous. I was unable to vote for either and wasted my vote on another candidate.

Trump's reality is distorted by impulsiveness and narcissism. He talks before he thinks and is convinced he must be right because he is so smart. He talks out of his ass, then defends or doubles down on whatever his ass happened to have said. There is not truth or reality anywhere near there.

As to which is worse, a clever, intentional house of lies built in the service of an ambitious, purely personal agenda (Clinton) or a disorganized, messy bunch of undirected untruths with no rhyme or reason (Trump) well, I just couldn't decide.
11:01 PM Oct 11th
That’s certainly true about hand models although you see them used a lot less now as advertising has changed styles significantly.
10:17 PM Oct 11th
Maybe you could convince me that Trump is more likely than Clinton to say what he thinks is true, but his grasp on reality is so tenuous that what he thinks is true almost never is. He thinks he's great and nothing else is relevant.

The fact checkers say he is setting records for lying. Yeah, you can argue with the fact checker's measurements but when Trump is scoring a 70 while all the other politicians are scoring 40, you have to believe the difference is real.
9:43 PM Oct 11th
Expanding my comment below, which is a response to Jemanji's comment. . .it's a Big Picture/Small Picture issue. Academics have bought into the Small Picture, which is a necessary consequence of working only with what you KNOW to be true. If you work only with what you KNOW to be true, you are limited to dealing with the small picture, since the big picture always contains many thousands of unknowns. ACCURACY is a small-picture issue. But TRUTH is a big-picture issue.
8:04 PM Oct 11th
The biggest problem with the 2016 election is that the voters were asked to choose between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. I agree with Bill that Ms. Clinton tries to be accurate without being truthful, but I don't agree at all about Trump. Trump makes very little effort to be either truthful or accurate. What a nimrod.
8:03 PM Oct 11th
Jemanji's post to me is very interesting. . .I started to say it was the most interesting post here, but I didn't mean to demean anyone else's post. I would suggest that the cultural conflict between Trump and the media is related to this. The Clintons are (famously) skilled at making statements which are technically true, or which at least can be documented as true even if they aren't, but statements made in the interest of an agenda rather than in the interests of advancing understanding of the issue. Trump is rather the opposite: he pays little or no attention to what is technically true, but says what he believes--sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly--to reflect the underlying reality. Whether it is technically true. . .he doesn't care.

While I agree with many of you that Trump is. . .not the most suitable President, and while I was forced to vote for Ms. Clinton because I think Trump is attended by unacceptable risks, nonetheless I rather prefer Trump's view of this issue. If asked "Who do you think tells the truth more, Trump or Clinton?" I absolutely would choose Trump. Clinton tries to say what is accurate without any concern for whether it is true. Trump tries to say what is true, without any concern for whether it is accurate.

The academic world, committed to the pursuit of objective truth, has, as a consequence of that pursuit, convinced itself that we live in a universe of manageable facts, when in reality the world is a vast jumble of unmanageable information. The academics have sold their view of the world to the journalists. Trump rejected that view of "truth"--and I agree with him there--but in rejecting that view, he rejected principles that both journalists and academics take to be sacred, or first principles of the highest order. Journalists and academics despise Trump largely as a consequence of this exact problem.
7:22 PM Oct 11th
Baseball-reference in 1960 shows Mantle with 46 runs above average as an offensive player, and Maris with 43. But they agree with Mike Humphreys that Mantle had a mediocre to poor season in the field while Maris had an outstanding one. Thus, they too rank Maris above Mantle for 1960 and they also show Maris as comfortably the MVP. It's not an off the wall finding at all, on the contrary. No one else was even close to those two among offensive players.

But that wasn't the issue. This issue is not who deserved the award in THAT season, but whether the season meets the usual standards of an MVP campaign. It's a fluke year; nobody actually deserved an MVP Award. Maris won an award with a substandard MVP season because it happened that nobody had a true MVP season.
7:02 PM Oct 11th
This is a convenient way of justifying lying about the problem.

Arguing over definitions ('mass shooting') is a convenient way of distracting attention from the real issue, which is the American firearm epidemic.
7:00 PM Oct 11th
Baseball-reference in 1960 shows Mantle with 46 runs above average as an offensive player, and Maris with 43. But they agree with Mike Humphreys that Mantle had a mediocre to poor season in the field while Maris had an outstanding one. Thus, they too rank Maris above Mantle for 1960 and they also show Maris as comfortably the MVP. It's not an off the wall finding at all, on the contrary. No one else was even close to those two among offensive players.

6:55 PM Oct 11th
Well said by Raincheck.

In one (or more) of the Historical Abstracts, Bill wrote that the most interesting thing about Roger Maris is that almost everything people say about him is false. (Great piece!!) I'd add that another interesting thing about him is sort of what Raincheck talked about: how he can be seen in such different ways, depending on which facts you think should be emphasized and how you feel about how contrasting facts interact. It's a great multi-dimensional example of facts that battle one another.
5:28 PM Oct 11th
Most people are only interested in the facts that confirm their opinions and support their arguments. I think that is the real issue we are discussing here.

Roger Maris WAS MVP twice, and probably deserved one. But let's say he deserved two. If you won the MVP twice, you were a great player for two years. But two years is not a Hall of Fame career.

Maris did one exceptional thing - breaking the Babe's record. He received all the attention that deserved (and didn't care for it much, by the way). He had two years where he was a great player. But did he have a great, Hall of Fame worthy career?

One could just as easily cite his stats from 65-68, when he hit about .250 and averaged single digit homers and say that is CLEARLY NOT Hall of Fame stuff. It is a mediocre hitting outfielder.

Two MVPs? Fact. 65-68? Fact. Each supports one bias or another. And that is all they do. That is what I think Bill was driving at.

The right approach looks at 57-68, and we see an outfielder who hit .260 with 275 homers over his career. We should ask, is that a Hall of Fame career, and does 1961 override the fact that it isn't? To me the answer is no, but there could be honest disagreements about peak value, and extreme accomplishments, and "fame." An honest look for an answer. Not a selective and meaningless "fact."​
5:11 PM Oct 11th
The shooting counters can define their thresholds however they prefer, but an important reason for the surprised reaction of many is that an important dimension other than thresholds is ignored. I doubt that many people would lump together a gangland drive-by, a family murder/suicide, and a shooting of random bystanders in a public place, as essentially identical events. Many people would probably cross off the first two as unlikely to ever affect them personally, but they might be concerned about the third. More importantly, the solutions to preventing these events probably have more differences than similarities. Lumping all shooting events together is a good way to come up with a surprising meme, but not a good foundation for a serious discussion of public policy.

In a way, it's similar to how people react to risks in their lives. You can show them tables of their likelihood of being harmed by a variety of threats, but they will not weigh all equal risks equally. For example, they will be more upset about risks that they feel are imposed upon them (e.g., a pipeline in their neighborhood) than they will about risks they volunteer for (e.g., driving their car).

These are examples of Bill's point about a variety of facts that are all true, but that demand care in their interpretation before policies are set in motion based upon them.
4:53 PM Oct 11th
So who is the most famous stunt double ever?

I vote for Linda Gray. For just 25 dollars they used her leg, not Anne Bancroft's, in the poster for The Graduate, in front of Dustin Hoffman. Looks like the real Dustin, though.
4:24 PM Oct 11th
This device is a minimum 4,000 years old, going back to Abraham telling Abimelech that Sarai was his sister (so King Abimelech wouldn't kill Abraham to steal his wife). Sarai went along with it; she was his partial sister, so it was technically true but to all purposes a lie.

Our culture is in the habit of stating "technically true" things (with a bit more finesse than that!) with the INTENT of --- > causing other people to believe things that are NOT true.

The right ethic, of course, is either say only those things that lead other things to believe things that are true, or else to say nothing.


Since the 2016 election we've see an odd VARIATION on this play. President Trump tweets "Soft measures have not worked with Kim John-Un for 25 years. Why would they work now?"

Twitter replies: Kim Jong-Un was 8 years old, 25 years ago. False statement, read no further, next subject.

In fact HAVE "soft strategies" produced disappointing results on the Kim Jong-Un and his dad, Kim Jong-Il? Looks like it to me. A valuable point is dodged when Twitter focuses on finding inaccuracy and in losing sight of the critical issue.

This has been going on for quite a few months, Tweets that are 'directionally accurate' but which receive attention only as to their 'technical accuracy.'

I think we could list about 10 different ways in which we all, nowadays, use rhetoric that takes understanding FARTHER AWAY from the perception of reality.

- Jeff

1:26 PM Oct 11th
Kaiser: I wasn't questioning whether Kralick had a better season than Maris; more that I am surprised I had never heard of the man who led the league in WAR by a pitcher. That was not a golden age of pitching in the AL, to be sure.
1:16 PM Oct 11th
"My mind's made up. Don't confuse me with facts." ---Origin Unknown. Presumably not D.P. Moynihan​
1:01 PM Oct 11th
Kaiser: I don't know what you're looking for someone to say. Just about anything (besides "WAR" and I suppose RBI total) says that Mantle was a better player than Maris in 1960, not to mention every other year.

I mean look -- even I'm conceding that. :-)

I'll even add this: I think that a big part of why Maris was so good with the Yanks was Mantle's presence.
Have you seen Maris's 1961 splits for "with Mantle batting behind him" and "without Mantle batting behind him"?

We discussed that a while back on Reader Posts, and as was pointed out, there were a couple of confounding factors that exaggerated the split. But it's an incredibly wide split -- almost literally "incredibly," i.e. not to be believed.
12:15 PM Oct 11th
The 1961 season was Kralick's best, but he was a good pitcher for quite a while. He had a very good 3 WAA in 1960, and 4.3 as stated in 1961. He slumped in 1962, was up to about 1 WAA in 1963, and 1.8 in 1964.
To repeat, I'd be very interested to hear see someone argue that some other player was better than Maris in the 1960 AL.


11:50 AM Oct 11th
"I am not obsessed..."

Bill, you are not entitled to your own facts.
11:49 AM Oct 11th
(sorry, another oops -- Kralick didn't have any good seasons "after." That's when he was basically done. He did have a decent career, with some very good years.)
10:37 AM Oct 11th
(oops, meant to say, the first team I ever noticed whose pitching staff....)
10:31 AM Oct 11th
I remember Kralick as one of the pitchers on the first team whose pitching staff seemed to have an unusually large group of highly capable starters, the '65 Indians. It was six, or at least I thought they were all highly capable. I marveled about them to friends, and can still rattle off the list (no wonder I can't learn anything new): Tiant, Terry, McDowell, Kralick, Siebert, and Stange. (I bet Stange is another one not too many have heard of. BTW it's pronounced as though the 'e' weren't there.) They didn't all wind up having good years; Kralick sure didn't, but he did have several very good seasons in other years, both before and after.
10:30 AM Oct 11th
Jack Kralick? Ok, I will go look him up...
10:07 AM Oct 11th
re Kaiser's comment: Of course I appreciate your info, but, just to clarify:
While I did post the "WAR" data suggesting that Maris was the "best player" in the league in 1960, I also indicated that I didn't think he really was. (Although, that indeed it was an MVP-type year and that I thought it was seen fully that way at the time.)
9:53 AM Oct 11th
I have to echo MarisFan61 on one point here. In connection with my book I have a table showing every player who has had 4 WAA or more in a season since 1901. (As I've explained, I also use Michael Humpheys's DRA for fielding and I don't use position adjustments because I want absolute value.) That table shows Maris as the MVP in 1960 by a considerable margin. Thanks in part to excellent defensive stats (which he did not repeat in 1961), he had 6.4 WAA in 1960, and not one other AL offensive player had 4. Bunning had 4, the only other superstar season in the league that year. It was a very weak year, but as MarisFan's stats tend to show as well, Maris certainly appears to have been the best player in the league by a wide margin.

For the record, he ranks as the 8th best player in the league in 1961 behind Mantle (8.8 WAA, a real monster year), Norm Cash, Kaline, Jim Gentile, Colavito, Harmon Killibrew, and pitcher Jack Kralick.Maris had only 4 WAA in 1961. So no, he certainly didn't deserve that MVP, and no, he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Colavito over his career was, I agree, better than Maris, but Colavito never had a season in the context of his league that was as good as Maris's in 1960.

9:24 AM Oct 11th
I've seen the birthday cake commercial and didn't notice what Bill did. But, having seen this commercial multiple times, I am pretty sure they CHANGED the commercial. The earlier version showed the "mistake" cake as pink or pink-trimmed, without any other indication that the baby is a girl. The later version shows a cake that actually says "It's a Girl". Unless my memory is wrong...
8:02 AM Oct 11th
I believe commercials used hand doubles when they were selling hand soaps and lotions.
7:53 AM Oct 11th
I’ve been a video editor in advertising for almost twenty years. I can guess with about 98% certainty that it is the same actress. While a previous comment was correct that feature films and television use stunt doubles or body doubles pretty regularly, that practice is used much less in commercials unless it is a physical stunt. The main reason is because budgets are much lower and time is usually pretty tight. The union acting pool is large enough in this country where, if the derrière were truly a concern, they could easily address it in the casting of the main actress.

I won’t go so far as to say that attitude is no longer prevalent in the advertising world. There are pockets of broadcast advertising which still think they have a foot in the Mad Men days. There are also a large percentage of women working in advertising and the levels of approval a commercial would have to go through for a “stunt butt” would draw extra attention to it.

My opinion is that butt is genuine.
7:25 AM Oct 11th
Arguing over definitions ('mass shooting') is a convenient way of distracting attention from the real issue, which is the American firearm epidemic.
7:03 AM Oct 11th
I agree with ScottSegrin. They are all the same crime or should be. Well maybe, pulling the trigger and the gun not firing would be hard to verify. But shooting at someone, shooting them and injuring them, shooting them and killing them - they're the same in my book, deserving the same punishment.

I would argue it isn't outcome or intent that you prosecute. It's the action the person took. You shoot a gun at people, it doesn't matter why. It shouldn't matter if you are or aren't a good shot.

Julia Roberts famously had a body double for the Pretty Woman poster. Apparently her 23-year-old body wasn't attractive enough.
3:05 AM Oct 11th
Brock Hanke
Good article, addressing four different problems that currently exist in discussions of things. The Maris issues are lack of context and a questionable criterion. Does Maris deserve more respect than he gets because he won two MVP awards when he wasn't the best player in the league in either year? Should be there a respect discount because the feature year was an expansion year? Are the two MVP years consistent with the rest of his career, or are they two Big Flukes? That's context. Do two MVPs constitute a sufficient criterion for Hall selection? That's the questionable criterion. The actual quote admits that by putting a question mark at the end of "Should the 2X MVP be in the HoF?"

The Bernie Sanders one is different. Bernie is caught in a trap not of his own making. As far as I know, all the media that discuss the question of mass shootings use the term in the way the Bernie's source does: A "mass shooting" means that more than one person got hit with a bullet. It doesn't matter whether they died or not. Using the term "mass gun killing" for a mass shooting where multiple people died would solve that problem if anyone used it. But no one does. So, Bernie has a choice of using an ambiguous phrase or including in his comment a lecture to the mass media about more precise word usage. Bernie's not a journalism critic. He used the phrase that is in current use, ambiguous as it is. He didn't include the usage lecture because that's not really his job. So, he ends up putting up inadequate information because of lazy media.

On the third one, I happen to know a very few Hollywood special effects people. They basically tell me that the studio will use a double whenever they can get away with it, and will set up shots to use doubles. If you see your favorite superhero fall 30 stories to the pavement, that's a double - a stunt person. The reason for that one is insurance. Studios have to insure their major stars against inability to complete the movie. They actually hate it when stars insist on doing their own stunts. It drives up the insurance premium. The other issue is "days on set." This concept means how many days does the star actually have to show up on set to get his part of the movie done? Movie star time is important. Stars can do more movies if they don't have to show up every day, which means they get paid more. So they pay attention to how many days they actually have to be there. So, if there's just a back side or back of a hand to show, the studio will use a double for that shot. My assumption, until someone from the commercial says otherwise, would be that the backside was a double.

I don't really have anything to say about Your Own Facts except that it's obviously a complex and emotionally charged issue. I haven't thought of any solution to the problem at all. Sorry.
1:27 AM Oct 11th
This article and discussion have helped me clarify for myself the somewhat Jekyll-Hyde-ness about how I react to Bill's writings. Most of it, the great majority of it, I love, and even semi bow down to. Other of it, I just about shit in my pants. I never much tried to figure out the difference because I figured it was kind of random. I see that it isn't. (And the operative factor isn't if it's about Roger Maris.)

I'm realizing that what I personally have loved most about Bill's writings, besides just the basic style which I suppose is the main thing and which makes me remember so much of it so vividly, is the questioning of almost everything and the ways he goes about seeking better answers. What makes me sometimes just about shit in my pants is when he seems to insist on the truth of (some) answers. I love it when differing possibilities of truth are pointed up and when the uncertainty of the bottom line is accepted.

Here's one early example -- in fact, I see (from looking it up) that it was the very first Bill James I ever read; it's in the Introduction in the 1983 Abstract -- the riff on how a team might approach trying to fix their poor number of turned-double-plays. Maybe the best answer is to trade for some other 2B; maybe you give a shot to the 2B in AAA; maybe you try to work on your 2B's mechanics; maybe the problem is really the SS; maybe the problem is that you're not positioning the fielders well; maybe you don't worry about it because baseball is 90% pitching anyway; maybe you have too many high-ball pitchers; maybe the problem is that the grounds crew doesn't cut the grass short enough. Some of the theories can be checked out and pretty much dismissed (especially now; not necessarily so much then), but you're still left with uncertainty and with different possible approaches. Bill's point wasn't that it's unknowable, just that it was currently unknown and that it would be great to have more facts to be able to sort out such questions better, including even "You want to know exactly what would happen if you really did cut the damned grass." I loved that, and I was hooked. Where I have a problem is where it's asserted that we have a firm answer even though it seems some of the steps toward that answer are questionable, and/or where relevant possible other factors seem not yet to have been taken sufficiently into account; or, as here, when things that are debatable are used as building blocks toward a firm conclusion, very ironically in this instance because it's in the name of debunking someone else's facts.

BTW I don't disagree that the other guy's facts weren't real good facts. I just don't think the stated rationale for debunking them was very well taken.
12:55 AM Oct 11th
Stimulating discussion, on many levels.

The nature of my business (research) leads me sometimes to give presentations to groups on facts and truth. Moynihan's pithy little comment is never brought up.

The GOAL of research is truth. Facts are stipulated dots of data, but they are employed to find truth. So what is truth? My (admittedly simple) equation is "Facts + Context = Truth." A fact may or may not be relevant -- but the CONTEXT is key.

Bill puts the Maris 2-MVP and the Mass shooting numbers to the test of context, and correctly finds them wanting in the search for truth in their respective arguments.

An example I use is the stipulated fact -- "The agency's budget grew by $1 billion in the last fiscal year." OK - but what does that MEAN?

If the agency's previous total budget was $100 billion, and it rose by $1 billion last year -- well, that's an increase of just 1%. Not even the rate of inflation -- in this context, no big deal.

But - if the agency's previous budget was $1 billion -- and it rose by another billion in a single year -- that's HUGE, an increase of 100%. Obviously, a major shift from one year to another.

Same "fact" -- but the meaning is entirely different. That's the importance of context. And now we are closer to the truth of the matter.

Bill James -- in championing the consideration of park factors, MLEs, the myriad revelations (e.g. about fielding) that went into the glorious creation of Win Shares, etc. -- has done more to introduce CONTEXT into the study of baseball than anyone else. And now, I think we can all agree, we are much closer to the TRUTH about baseball history, and much more besides.
12:08 AM Oct 11th
....thought I better add this, or else it could seem like I'm just being a trouble maker.

The point is, many of the things that are being said here to be facts or to be ideas that have some clarity or simple definiteness to them, aren't. I think that a great deal in general of what's asserted or assumed to be a simple fact, isn't. I'm very glad to see that a fair amount of the comments here seem to show a similar inclination, which I think isn't that common. Most people, I think, feel that things are more known or knowable or clear than what's possible.
10:41 PM Oct 10th
Very interesting example, because I think many wives would disagree.
Not saying the view is wise or not, just saying.

I've often seen it as Scott said, when a shooting leaves someone injured and the charges depend on the medical outcome. I see it the other way too.
9:19 PM Oct 10th
They're not the same crime in any way, shape or form, no. What matters most is outcomes, not intent. Trying to administer justice based on INTENTIONS would be completely unworkable. If you flirt with a waitress, is that the same as having an affair? Should your wife divorce you because, at that moment, you perhaps had the INTENTION to have an affair? It's unworkable. What matters is outcomes.
8:42 PM Oct 10th
Tangential to the mass shooting discussion... I’ve always found it a bit unsettling that if someone aims a gun at another person and pulls the trigger, it’s one crime if the gun doesn’t fire, it’s a different crime if the gun fires but they miss the person they are aiming at, it’s yet a different crime if the guns fires, they hit the person, but the person doesn’t die, and still a different crime if they hit the person and he dies. At a very basic level, aren’t those all the same crime?
8:32 PM Oct 10th
Fun facts about that "right field fence," regarding both Ruth and Maris..... (I know it wasn't any major part of what you were saying)

Ruth, 1927
HR's at home: 28
HR's on the road: 32

Maris, 1961
HR's at home: 30
HR's on the road: 31
6:26 PM Oct 10th
Steven Goldleaf
Funny, I was just thinking about Maris this week--I saw the movie 61*, not for the first time, the other day, and a couple things occurred to me: how close he came to finishing second in both the 60 and 61 MVP contests, on which so much of his reputation for greatness rests. I suspect he must have gotten some support in 1960 because he was the new guy in town. The Yankees had finished out of the money in 1959, Maris came along, the Yankees won, ergo Maris was the MVP. It's a logical fallacy you can drive an 18-wheeler through, but what the hell, he had a good year. In 1961, Mantle put up better numbers than he did, played a more difficult position and played it well, but THE MAN BROKE RUTH'S RECORD, HOW YA GONNA GIVE MVP TO ANYONE ELSE!! In other words, forget about reason, that's not what the MVP is about. So twice in a row, Maris narrowly won the award on fairly specious grounds, but that's pretty much his entire HoF case. If he'd gotten a few voters thinking this through a little more carefully, even one voter really, no MVPs and no case at all. My other thought had to do with Yankee Stadium's right field fence, and how much the HR chases of 1927 and 1961 were set out there: Maris and Ruth both NYY rightfielders, both lefty sluggers (batting in the same slot in the order, no less). How likely is that both their offense and their defense would be set essentially at the same exact location, 250-300 feet from home plate?
5:51 PM Oct 10th
(oops, inadvertent double-negative in there:
"....some of what we use to argue against something not being a fact...."
-- hope you know what I mean anyway.)
5:40 PM Oct 10th
....I know that this isn't about Roger Maris, it's about facts. But since it was said as a supposed fact that nobody really had an MVP year in the A.L. in 1960....well, what do we mean by that anyway? (Sorry to be being a caricature of myself.) If a player soars above the rest of the league, isn't that a way to see "MVP year"? In terms of value to the team at that moment, I believe Maris was seen that way.

That's a preamble to this metric I'm going to cite, which is fairly hypocritical on my part because it's "WAR," which in general I don't give that much credence, but, as the Bill Clinton character in Primary Colors says on page 2, F*** a duck, you take what you can get. And I did cite Win Shares before, which showed both Mantle and Maris soaring above the rest of the league.
Here's "WAR."

"WAR" in 1960, A.L.
Maris 7.5
Mantle 6.3
Aparicio 5.6
nobody else above 4.7

It's not gospel, but it is a legitimate (in the minds of many) way to see it.

In the name of greater honesty, I'll mention that I'm not showing the "WAR" numbers for 1961 because he's not in the top 4. :-)

But the point is, what was implied up top as "facts," in supposed contrast to the thing that was being criticized, was itself fairly full of non-facts. As some of the other comments have noted, it's not always clear what's a fact and what isn't, and I guess it's not unusual that some of what we use to argue against something not being a fact isn't facts either.

In fact (pardon the phrase), Bill many times has argued that much of what is said in mockery of climate-change-deniers isn't factual, and, speaking as a climate change believer, I agree. It's what made it hard for me to sit through An Inconvenient Truth and what makes me keep forgetting to see the sequel.
5:02 PM Oct 10th
Regarding facts, it seems to me that "facts" are the byproduct of (1) evidence and (2) interpretation. When people argue about "facts," they're really disputing the other person's underlying evidence and/or his interpretation of the evidence.

And then, going a level deeper, the evidence and interpretation that one employs are determined by one's first principles. And by definition, first principles are arbitrary choices.

This is why it makes no sense to argue about facts or conclusions, when we really should be trying to understand the other person's first principles and then their evidence and interpretations. If we can't agree on those deeper things, argument is pointless.

- Matthew
1:24 PM Oct 10th
Seems to me that as the woman runs from the car to the sidewalk that there are 2 things a bit different: I think there is a flash of hoop earring, which may be there in the earlier shots but hidden, and her hair is more behind the shoulder, instead of in front, as we saw before. Then in the next scene, where she says "No problem," her hair parts briefly and we see no earring. It could still be the same actress, but perhaps the subconscious picks up on little things like that, and the seed of doubt is planted.

1:23 PM Oct 10th
Rocky Colavito has my favorite nickname (coined by you, Bill) -- "You Call-a Tony, I'll Colavito."

- Matthew
1:12 PM Oct 10th
I don't see a problem with the definition of "mass shooting" meaning three or more people shot. Three people getting shot seems like a lot. To me, anyway.
12:37 PM Oct 10th
Limited defense of Moynihan here. In the world of policy, it's likely that when certain subjects are being discussed in both white papers and in political discourse, that for the sake of the discussion it's accepted that the unemployment numbers are measuring something real. Otherwise you are stuck in a discussion about what numbers you are using. In that limited sense I think Moynihan's assertion carries weight. It's not 100% ironclad -- if someone states that unemployment is down or the murder rate is down and the numbers say otherwise, it's incumbent on that person to explain what the hell he/she means. I don't think anyone agrees that in the course of an essay or a rambling collegiate discussion, that your field of available and valid facts is so constricted.
12:08 PM Oct 10th
P.S. Not important for what I said, but.....I gave up a little too much ground in saying that Colavito overall was a better player and had a better career. He and Maris are pretty comparable on that; one could easily argue either way.
(Sorry to cite Bill again :-) but in the New Historical Abstract, he has them very close, 2 spots apart, Colavito higher.)
12:01 PM Oct 10th
With respect to facts, I respect the tradition of debate in which the participants use points that have a basis in evidence. Too often we are faced with participants who just make shit up. This is why we try to rely on evidence instead of authority in deciding what is true and what is not. We often fall short of that standard but it’s still the right way to go.
11:44 AM Oct 10th
Just for the record, it wasn't me. :-) :-)

That said, and while I don't go around arguing for the Hall of Fame for Roger Maris, among other reasons because I can well see why he's not in there, I know that this comment risks my being seen like what you once said about Jerome Holtzman.

I think your argument itself creates a fact or three. I think there's a more severe created fact than the one you're criticizing, this view being independent of it happening to be about Roger Maris -- like, I'd feel the same thing if it was said about Zoilo Versalles or Marty Marion, which many people do. The only thing about it being about Maris is that if it were about the other guys I wouldn't necessarily be motivated to type a comment.

re 1960: "It’s a good season, but it isn’t really an MVP season, is it? Hundreds of players have had better seasons than that and not won an MVP Award. Dozens of players who were similar to Maris—that is, right fielders and sluggers—have had better seasons than that and not won the MVP Award."

The problem is, the argument here bases that solely on numbers.
The main apparent reason he won MVP was, well, other things, which have been much written about (and which I can elaborate on if anyone wants me to), including I think by you. I don't disagree that Maris didn't necessarily "deserve" the award; it depends on how one wants to see the award, and as we've said a lot on here, there are various ways. Indeed he wasn't the best player in the league, but there are other legitimate ways that the award had been seen. (I know that this kind of point can make some people here just about shit in their pants.) :-)

"...nobody really had what you would normally think of as an MVP season. No pitcher won 20 games. No hitter hit .300 with 30 homers. There’s really nobody there who looks like an MVP."

Sure, nobody "looked like an MVP" from that limited standpoint. Even back then, neither voters nor regular people necessarily looked at "MVP" that way. Admittedly hindsight isn't reliable, especially from a fan (OK, let's say lover), but my recollection is that his season was seen very much as an MVP season.

And Win Shares sees it that way too.
It sees Mantle as the best player in the league, which would be hard to disagree with and it's why Mantle came within a hair of winning MVP and very arguably should have won. But, given that there were reasons not to consider him the guy (and there were), look at Maris's Win Shares.

Mantle had the most in the league. Maris was 2nd -- with nobody else within 7 Win Shares of him.
(Mantle 36, Maris 31; nobody else had more than 24.)
Of course nobody knew about Win Shares then, or anything like it. But Win Shares is seeing things that were seen at the time: he was helping the team win, big time.

Also the use of Colavito as an example in such a way seems odd, because basically it's the "if.....then" argument, just in reverse.
I agree that Colavito, overall and in terms of career, was a better player than Maris. BTW in 1961, the year that's put under a microscope here, Colavito had fewer Win Shares than Maris. He was more than an inch worse -- he was 3 inches worse. :-)
(Maris 36, Colavito 33)
But never mind about that. Colavito himself very well maybe should be in the Hall of Fame. In fact, a couple of years ago (or so) when you did the series of articles on fielding and found Colavito showing so well, I said that if that's truly what kind of fielder he was, he fully deserves the Hall of Fame.

All of that said, I don't think Maris is any kind of clear Hall of Famer and I agree that those who argue so single-mindedly for it are ignoring more than what they're saying. But it's odd that this article, in the process of being so worked up about that guy's created facts, creates some itself.
11:31 AM Oct 10th
One can see, then, that Moynihan's aphorism directly contradicts the old definition of a fact. Moynihan is implicitly saying that things which are true must be accepted as facts. But this skips over the crucial question of who regards these things as true, and who decides that they are true. if the definition of a fact is "a bit of data. . .which is not controversial" then any bit of data which is subject to controversy can never be described as a fact; thus, each person have their OWN facts is a non sequitur.
11:14 AM Oct 10th
Quoting from rezk42

He makes an observation about the word "fact", in the way we use the word today: a bit of data about the world which is seen as well-established and non-controversial.

Very interesting. The problem with the politicization of science, then, is that it attempts to adopt CONTROVERSIAL pieces of data as proven "facts". . . ie an exaggerated count of the number of mass shootings or global warming. The problem with global warming is not whether it is TRUE--it is true--but whether it can be treated as a fact. This definition makes sense to me. As long as it is controversial, it cannot be regarded as a fact.
11:02 AM Oct 10th
About the Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote, I don't take it the same way. I think the idea being expressed there is that opinions shouldn't alter the facts, that opinions are at least in part an attempt to interpret the facts. Of course there are virtually infinite facts although I am brave enough to venture that there are considerably less relevant facts.

I mean, I think the quote says you can have opinions, you can introduce evidence, but you shouldn't just make shit up.
10:57 AM Oct 10th
Watched the commercial. It's the same actress, but they're using two different Buicks. Surprised you missed that.
10:40 AM Oct 10th
Not to get away from the important issue of stunt-butts ... but your post reminded me of a fascinating recent book: "The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution" by David Wootton. He makes an observation about the word "fact", in the way we use the word today: a bit of data about the world which is seen as well-established and non-controversial (that Roger Maris won the HR title and the MVP in 1961 is a "fact"). This usage of "fact" apparently only appeared during the 1600s. In 1600, nobody was talking about things being facts, but by 1700 everybody was.

According to this, before that time arguments were not typically supported by "facts" as much as by appeals to "authority". Even for things that everybody knew were true, it was seen as far more convincing if you could quote Aristotle or somebody saying it was true.
10:27 AM Oct 10th
Responding to pob. . .I should have made this point in the article, but the problem is actually more with the word "mass" than it is with "shooting".
9:40 AM Oct 10th
Best as I can tell, that's Caitlin McHugh, face and butt both.

Not to say that the producers of commercials *wouldn't* employ butt doubles -- no question in my mind that this happens all the time.

Back in the 1980s I ran a closed-captioning office in NYC that rented office space from a post-production facility that specialized in TV commercials. They were all about maximizing effect while minimizing cost; their mantra was "Don't blow your budget on the actors." Words to live by.
9:17 AM Oct 10th
Regarding point #2: I always think it's interesting how language can interfere with communication rather than facilitating it. I personally would never have thought "shooting" implied "fatal shooting;" someone gets shot, that's a shooting. What else would it be?

I guess in the context of this conversation, though, we need to specify "all shootings, fatal and non-fatal."
8:56 AM Oct 10th
Saw Battle of the Sexes yesterday. Was doing the same with the Tennis, wondering when they substituted for Riggs and King. Good Movie BTW.
8:52 AM Oct 10th
Michael Palin of Monty Python used to do these documentary TV series about traveling the world. One was called Around the World in 80 Days, another was called Pole to Pole. I remember in the 80 Days one there is a sequence where we are told that Palin is behind schedule and he HAS to get down this mountain in a few hours by dogsled, I think, so that he can get on a barge; if he misses the barge he loses a week and the possibility of his doing the 80 days challenge is definitely lost.

So that sequence has plenty of exterior shots, of the dogsled whooshing toward the camera and then whooshing past the camera. If they were REALLY trying to make a super-tight deadline in a frantic manner, obviously every shot would be from the dogsled POV.... so at least this sequence was at least somewhat faked, they had more resources and time than they were admitting to in the show, and actually admitting that this was true in the way that it was shot.

To me this is a bit like the shuffling cards problem or the fake butt problem.... this show came out in the 1990s, and I was in my 20s. I found it very strange that the show could engage in such an obvious lie, and that nobody would comment on it or think it strange. Everyone seemed to accept that you just had to accept that this minimum amount of fakery was the price for an entertaining show of the type that would appear on PBS (relevant because we have slightly different standards for PBS entertainment).

This type of thing is a core issue in entertainment, and I think it might be true that that documentary series would be filmed differently today. Ewan McGregor did a similar series of motorcycle documentaries which I think might have been a little more honest or rigorous. The issue of how much blood a person produces when they are shot is kind of similar. Any color movie from the 1960s, they look like someone threw a little ketchup on them, audiences were not going to stand for such a lazy attitude toward verisimilitude, and that had to change.
8:35 AM Oct 10th
When I was a kid I'd watch those "Supermarionation" TV shows. Thunderbirds was probably the most well known, but there was a whole series of them. Stingray, Fireball XL5, Supercar, and others. They would sometimes cut away from the marionettes to show human hands performing some task, which bothered me at the time.
8:18 AM Oct 10th
Pretty sure they used a "butt double" for Cersei Lannister's (Lena Headey's) walk of shame in Game of Thrones.
8:17 AM Oct 10th
7:48 AM Oct 10th
~~~I like stunt butts and I cannot lie...~~~
7:33 AM Oct 10th
I wish we could edit our posts like you can in Facebook. Sometimes, you don't notice a mistake until after it is posted, such as "checking to doubles" should be "checking for doubles".
7:11 AM Oct 10th
So, Bill, does your wife actually buy the suggestion that you are checking out her butt because you think its a butt double?
7:11 AM Oct 10th
I try not to distract myself by looking for doubles, but sometimes it is too obvious to not notice (dancers for Jennifer Beals in Flashdance and for Don Ameche in Cocoon) - and almost any scene where they cut to someone's hands for a highly skilled action such as a card shuffle or piano playing. Actually, the one time I do find my self checking to see if I am being tricked is when a character is playing piano. Perhaps, other times. It is sort of involuntary even though I would rather stay in the movie's reality - and now that you've brought it up, Bill, I will probably be checking to doubles more often. Thanks a lot.

Apparently, most people don't try to see if they are being fooled - even people in the movie business. My fact for that opinion is that Don Ameche won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for Cocoon when that big dance scene was his character's one climatic scene.

7:08 AM Oct 10th

In case you want a body double for your abs.

It's pretty much only for famous people, Caitlin McHugh isn't all that famous, they would just hire someone else with both a cute face and behind. If it was 51 year old Cindy Crawford they might hire a body double for a rear view or simply to keep costs down, pay Cindy for being on set one day and do her close-ups and voice work and then pay a body double a lot less money for the rest of the days of shooting.
6:55 AM Oct 10th
The actress in the (Buick) commercial is named Caitlin McHugh. Based on other photos online, I don't think they had any need to go to a stunt butt.
6:32 AM Oct 10th
I'll study that commercial carefully, and let you know what I think. It may take some time, I think it would be best if my wife doesn't study it with me.
6:32 AM Oct 10th
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