Philosophizing Via Phootball
November 18, 2009, 07:00 PM
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In my Wednesday Taki's Magazine column, I use a popular football argument to explain the philosophy behind why my punditry is so off-kilter from everybody else's.
Last Sunday evening, while watching the final minutes of the now famous Indianapolis Colts - New England Patriots football game, I experienced a moment of middle-aged serenity. I realized that I didn’t actually need to have an opinion on perhaps the leading topic of office water cooler debate in this decade: Which quarterback is better—the Colt’s Peyton Manning or the Patriot’s Tom Brady?

I could just sit back and enjoy the show.

The everlasting Brady-Manning controversy reminded me of an epistemological insight that Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker suggested when I interviewed him in 2002 during his book tour for his bestseller The Blank Slate. It didn’t fully register upon me at the time, but what has stuck with me the longest is Pinker’s concept that �mental effort seems to be engaged most with the knife edge at which one finds extreme and radically different consequences with each outcome, but the considerations militating towards each one are close to equal.�

To put it another way, the things that we most like to argue about are those that are most inherently arguable, such as: Who would win in a fight, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?...
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