FanPost

A Letter to Ted Miller

Hi, Ted,

Just a quick note. I decided to reach out after reading your observations on Jordan Zumwalt's hit on the Virginia Tech quarterback in the Sun Bowl.

("I don't give Zumwalt extra points for knocking the opposing QB out of the game. And, yes, I think it was a dirty hit, even though many believe otherwise. Did it play a part in my thinking that Zumwalt has a reputation as a dirty player? Maybe. Probably.")

I wanted to touch base because I thought you could use a bit of help on this logical reasoning business. I'll grant you it's pretty complex stuff, but that's what we're supposed to do, right? Help the other guy out when he doesn't understand something.

So, here's the thing, Ted. As IE Angel ably pointed out on Bruins Nation, whether the hit would have drawn a penalty in the NFL is really secondary to a larger question: Was it part of a larger pattern that characterizes Jordan Zumwalt's play? In other words, does Zumwalt try to hurt opposing players? I think it's abundantly clear that he doesn't, and I would refer you to Angel's analysis in which he informatively discusses dirty play.

But having said that, Ted, I want to move on to the logical reasoning process itself. Now you may be unaware of it, but there's a word that encapsulates the required steps in this kind of reasoning, and it may be useful as you proceed from moment to moment in the sports world. The word is syllogism, and it refers to a process of drawing a conclusion from a major premise and a minor premise.

As I said earlier, I want to help as you share your insights into the sports world, so we can - and probably should - skip a few linguistic niceties like "major term," "minor term," and "middle term." The important point is that the conclusion must be logically supported by both premises.

Let me give you an example. Suppose I posit this major premise: No sports writer on ESPN's website is worth reading. And I follow with this minor premise: Ted Miller is a sports writer on ESPN. The conclusion follows easily: Ted Miller is not worth reading.

On the other hand, let's try our skill with this major premise: Jordan Zumwalt's hit was questionable in the eyes of some observers. Now consider the minor premise: Jordan Zumwalt plays aggressively but does not try to hurt opposing players. We move now to the conclusion, which runs this way: "Did it play a part in my thinking that Zumwalt has a reputation as a dirty player? Maybe. Probably."

You see where I'm going with this, Ted? The whole business of logical reasoning - or sweeping generalizations, for that matter - is incredibly tricky. It's a thicket of complications, in fact, and the only way I can see of avoiding it is to ask for help when in doubt.

So I want to close on that note. If you're not sure the evidence supports your conclusion, just reach out. I'll try to help, and I'm sure there are others on Bruins Nation who will do the same thing.

We're all in this together, after all.


<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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