Dismantling the typical argument in favor of scripting


A lot of posts and comments in support of the scripting-belief appear fairly articulated and often well written. Yet, even the thickest layer of rhetorical glance won’t change the fact that most of them are logically flawed and factually incorrect from one end to another.

We decided to take a look under the helmet of the typical scripting post to demonstrate how factual and logical flaws are covered up in rhetorical tricks.

It remains open for interpretation to what extent said rhetorical tricks are used deliberately or perhaps just are the product of people learning to articulate their views in ways which tend to cause less resistance from the readers.

The example below is a comment to a post written by crlarsen for FIFAUTEAM.com. A user named Rahul decided to share his thoughts.

While I agree that sometimes you can have more shots on target and lose because you made worse shots. But how do you explain that even the most of elementary of shots often go completely off-target and other times you always hit on target?

What happens here is that Rahul makes a broad, unfounded claim and demands his counterpart to disprove it. By reversing the burden of evidence, he either deliberately or inadvertently removes attention from the fact that he basically hasn’t presented any evidence suggesting that there is anything suspicious about shooting in FIFA.

Another rhetorical trick applied here is to present claims as broad statements. We hear that “the most elementary of shots often go completely off-target” – but he doesn’t define “elementary shots” or specify “often”.

Making broad statements is a recurring trick in many scripting posts. There are two “advantages” of speaking in broad terms: (1) You catch support of anyone whose views fall within the broader boundaries of your own statement. By avoiding specifying your perceptions, you allow the reader to fill in his own meaning. (2) It’s less dangerous to make broad statements because they are difficult to falsify.

The next bit is another brilliant example of this:

In real life it’s a rarity that a team has 1-2 shots on target and defeats a team that has 20 shots on target.

While the statement above is factually correct, the interesting part is the claim that he doesn’t make – directly: Namely that a team with fewer shots wins more often than it ought to in FIFA. Again, the reader is allowed to fill in the missing words.

The unspoken claim, by the way, has already been tested and proven wrong: In our sample of 1,100 FIFA matches, the losing side had a surplus of shots in approximately 30 % of all matches, but nearly all those cases, the winning side dominated on other performance stats or had a better track record than the losing side.

If this was purely down to ability how do you also explain that sometimes you would go on massive winning streaks. Yesterday I won 7 games in a row with Dortmund and the day before yesterday I also won 7 games in a row with Zenit in seasons online. I almost could not lose matches. I become ranked 1st in the leaderboards on PC Weekly and Monthly. After 2500+ matches online over a years of playing I finally won Division 1 title day before yesterday something I could not achieve all year long!

Now yesterday a miracle happened. I won Division 1, 2 consecutive times in a row on the same day!!! How the hell is that possible when all year I kept getting relegated to Division 3 and climb up to Division 2, 3, 1, 2, 1 and suddenly now I was dominating? Strange right?

And today completely the opposite. I am losing almost all my matches. I cannot dominate. I check their profile stats. Sometimes I thrash stronger opponents yet lose to weaker ones. It feels like it’s programmed; “Hey don’t be too cocky of yourself, I am going to make you lose now”!

Another believer classic is to attribute a sinister meaning and significance to anything apparently or evidently abnormal. The jumping to conclusions fallacy is without a question one of the major driving forces behind the scripting belief: “Something is abnormal over here. Must be connected to scripting over there”.

Keep in mind that Rahul started out talking about inefficient shooting, and here we have him talking about winning and losing streaks: Two different subjects, which he would have a hard time connecting if he was asked to be more specific.

As for the material part of this claim, our tests on the occurrence of losing streaks in FUT online friendlies yielded no irregularities in regards to the occurrence of streaks. We haven’t got similar tests for FUT online seasons, but even if we did have tests showing irregularities in the occurrence of streaks, that still wouldn’t allow us to conclude that there must be a sinister motive behind it.

“I’ve been playing FIFA since FIFA 98 World Cup on PC. FIFA 99, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017.
5 years I took a break from FIFA 12 because of handicapping, momentum scripting. To tell you frankly it was even worse in FIFA 12… Played NBA 2K instead and never witnessed crap like this there. All these years before that there has never been talks about scripting but suddenly in recent years this has become a topic! Coincidence?”

There is a certain element of circular argumentation about this statement: Rahul claims that the fact that people started talking about scripting at a certain (but unspecified) point in time can’t be a coincidence, i.e. serves to prove that it exists. In truth, the scripting conspiracy theory has been around minimum since 2007, probably longer. We don’t know exactly when it occurred, and it’s difficult to have a qualified discussion about why it became a topic without knowing when it became a topic.

What we do know is that conspiracy theories aren’t proven right merely because people believe in them or talk about them.

“If you think quick goals one after another. Or going from 2-0 up/down and it’s even stevens like the commentator says. Or 45th, 53 min, 90th minute goals that happen almost every single match. If you think that’s not handicapping then you must be paid by EA to write such article!”

Another cheap, rhetorical trick here, namely a nifty little ad hominem attack. People use ad hominem attacks, which they have nothing substantially better to offer and because they want to derive attention from their own lack of substance. Even if we were paid by EA, our arguments would still be the same, well-substantiated arguments you are looking at right now.

As for the substance in the quote above, the fact remains that there is a perfectly simple explanation to why goals scored during stoppage times (wrongly also known as the 45th and the 90th minutes) and for that matter to why you sometimes lose a clear lead.

As for the 53rd minute, we so far haven’t seen any evidence indicating an abundance of goals there. The same goes for the 37th minute, the 7th and a long list of other minutes that we have heard similar claims about. In fact, if we approach this like rational human beings, it’s difficult to imagine why EA would have any interest in when you score or concede goals.

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