“Everyone knows that scripting exists”

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In spite of the absence of evidence suggesting that scripting exists, scripting believers rarely if ever change their minds. One of the reasons is undoubtedly that they find plenty of support when they come forward with their claims. A brief scan through various forum threads combined with polls on the subject [1][2][3] suggests that a majority of players believes in scripting. While some scripting believers settle for taking comfort in knowing that there are others like them, others take it even further and argue that the opinion of the majority in itself carries an intrinsic bearing upon whether scripting exists or not:

“Where there is smoke there is fire my friend. There is a reason ‘handicap’ is the #1 most complained about subject in FUT.”
(– Purdomination33 on FIFA247.net)

“8 out 10 (80%) of the sampled players feel the game is manipulated. That seems pretty convincing to me.”
(– Mannyz on ultimateteam.co.uk)

This argument is nonsense from one end to another.

The majority isn’t always right

People, even in large groups, are capable of having incorrect beliefs. Throughout history as well as in modern day everyday life, there are numerous examples of beliefs, which are utterly wrong and yet far more widespread than scripting. Although most of us know this, we still occasionally fall into the pitfalls of making what is known as a ad populum fallacy, i.e. trying to justify our views by their popularity or failing to question them because of their popularity.

No matter how comforting it is to know that others agree with your beliefs, the popularity of your beliefs doesn’t have any bearing on their validity. Arguing that scripting exists, because the majority believes in it, is just as ignorant as arguing that McDonald’s food is healthy because they sold over 99 billion meals.

The majority of YouTubers can also be wrong

Some scripting believers take their ad populum fallacy one step further and spice it up with the fact that a lot of the most popular YouTubers seem to support the idea as well:

“[T]he opinions of the best players (KSI, Bateson87,…and a million others) in the game, who all, almost unanimously agree the game is scripted, gives me a pretty good idea.”
(– Mannyz on ultimateteam.co.uk)

The quote is a good example of yet another classic type of false argument, namely appeal to authority, where people try to justify their opinions by referring to that some believed-to-be authority agrees with them. Mannyz’ claim rests on the unspoken assumption that being a YouTuber or an expert FIFA player grants you authority on whether scripting exists. This is of course nonsense. The fact that you play a lot of FIFA and make videos about it doesn’t mean that you did research in scripting and it doesn’t make you an expert on EA’s business motives or FIFA’s code base.

Having said that, we definitely should listen to people with true, expert insights into a matter when forming an opinion about it. As an example, the fact that 97 % of climate scientists believe in man-made global warming shouldn’t be ignored. However, and this is the important part, we should listen to these guys because they have been proven to possess expert knowledge on climate issues and not because they form a majority.

There is no majority

The claim that everyone believes in it, therefore it must be right is not only crippled by logic fallacies but also by the fact that its premise is false: The majority doesn’t believe in it.

As I stated earlier, polls indicate that a clear majority believes that scripting exists. But that doesn’t imply that these people have a uniform idea about what scripting believes.

Think about this analogy: If you ask people whether the government spends too much money, a huge majority will agree to this. But that obviously doesn’t mean that they agree on what savings could be made.

The same issue is present here: When you look closer at what people actually believe in, you will notice that they use and mix the terms scripting, handicapping and momentum to describe a variety of different and often contradictory beliefs. People may agree that the game isn’t fair, and that EA probably are manipulating matches. But these broad statements cover a diverse mass of different beliefs with regards to how and why this alleged manipulation takes place.

In this survey, the respondents stated their opinion on the likelihood that the game is manipulated via each of the methods listed below:

  1. Deliberately injuring star players
  2. Deliberately ensuring that certain players are matched against expert players
  3. Imposing graphical errors (letting the ball pass through the foot etc.)
  4. Making the referee act stricter on one team than on the opposing team
  5. Downgrading the stats of star players
  6. Making it harder to win matches in some of the ways described above in order to inflict losing streaks on certain players
  7. Deliberately preventing the player from controlling certain defenders in certain situations
  8. Making players pass and shoot poorly
  9. Letting players score easy 90th minute goals
  10. Letting the AI-controlled team mates make bad decisions

A respond might agree to statements 2, 3, 6 and 8 while rejecting statements 1, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 10.

But to what extent did people believe and reject the same statements?

As it turned out, there wasn’t much common ground to be found.

The biggest consensus was a set of views shared by 5 % of the respondents. This result is consistent with the findings in our even larger 2016 survey, where we included 14 statements and found that only 3 % of the 910 respondents shared the same sat of views across all 14 topics.

This chart displays the results for each of the individual statements:

nonconsensus
Different views about manipulation

In fact, individual scripting believers are capable of having multiple, contradicting beliefs in regards to scriping, handicapping and momentum. Take as an example Arlington69, whose work we reviewed in the summer of 2018. Arlington69 believes that the game handicaps the better team, helps out the losing team in general and handicaps the winning team if it goes 2-0 up early in the match. Clearly, all three statements cannot be correct at the same time, and yet Arlington69 claims to have evidence supporting them all.

The false consensus

While the majority might agree to the broad claim that something called scripting exists, they quite clearly don’t agree to what scripting is. When considering how much this topic has been discussed on Reddit, FUThead forums and elsewhere, it might sound a bit surprising, that people still claim that there is a consensus.

This is however not a new phenomenon. Among psychologists, this phenomenon is known as the false-consensus bias. This is a cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their personal beliefs are normal and typical, which in turn may lead to the perception of a consensus that in reality does not exist, a “false consensus”.

In essence, scripting believers like all other people prefer to think that they are part of a majority. Consequentially, they will put more weight on information, which supports this point of view than the opposite.

When the absence of evidence becomes evidence of absence

Counter-intuitively, the number of people who claim having witnessed scripting (in some shape) makes it less likely that it does exist.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence under normal circumstances, but there are exceptions. Think about the millions of people who report having seen bigfoot. If such a large animal existed, it should leave evidence — and yet, we don’t have a single confirmed photo, footprint or DNA sample. With so many anecdotal reports of sightings, it becomes harder and harder to come up with credible explanations for this lack of evidence. And with that, it becomes more and more likely that the actual reason why people report having seen bigfoot is that this is just another mundane case of people’s minds is playing tricks on them rather than a case of a so-far undiscovered animal.

The same argument applies to scripting. With so many people around claiming that they have witnessed scripting (whatever that is) for years, it becomes increasingly difficult to explain why none of them have been able to deliver any evidence.

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