Politics, Law, and Baseball

October 16, 2013

Politics, law, and baseball are three of my most favourite things. 

I love baseball for it’s history, nostalgia, and importantly for the ability to quantify the game through modern metrics.  There are countless books that evaluate baseball using these quantifiable methods, with Michael Lewis’s Moneyball being the most famous example (although there are other books I would recommend more highly). 

This new, sometimes called Sabermetric, approach to evaluating baseball focuses on evidence.  True to the scientific method proponents of sabermetrics develop a hypothesis and then look to the quantifiable evidence to evaluate that hypothesis. 

Thus we now know how valuable a stolen base actually is, why one should almost never bunt, and how being a ‘clutch’ player is mostly a myth. 

Keith Law recently wrote a fantastic article on the problems with the ‘clutch’ argument.  ‘Clutchiness’ or the supernatural ability to raise ones level of play in high leverage baseball situations, is largely a myth.  It is not supported by the evidence.  It is a narrative (and sometimes a compelling one) which is used in a post hoc fashion to fit our observations.  

What does this have to do with politics and law? 

As I wait anxiously for the Conservatives speech from the throne I can’t help but wish that the Conservative Party read Keith Law’s articles and other sabermetric writing. 

I have written before on the Conservatives Partty’s love of ideology over evidence.  I continue to wish that the Conservatives would look to the evidence when considering policy and developing legislation. 

Canadians’ deserve a government that relies on evidence and not partisan post hoc thinking when developing policies and laws.   It is only through the use of evidence and intellectual rigour that we can be confident that policies and legislation will accomplish their states goals.

Sadly I don’t hold much hope of finding evidence based policy in today’s speech from the throne. 

It is a tragedy when more intellectual rigour can be found between the foul lines than in Parliament.