We’ve all been there before.
It’s the classic dinner table dispute over the quality of any two given sports teams. For me, the dispute always arises with one of my best friends from Pittsburgh.
The matchup? A die-hard Pitt Panther versus a Penn Stater who bleeds Blue and White.
The result? A conversation that usually ends up looking a little something like this:
- Me: “Penn State could crush Pitt this year, Pitt looked terrible against Wagner.”
- Him: “Stop it, Penn State is an embarrassment to the Big 10.”
- Me: “Oh really? Well we beat South Florida this year, who beat Pitt TWICE!”
- Him: “You want to play that game? Pitt took care of business against Duquense, something I believe Penn State didn’t do.”
A game indeed. And a game that most of us have probably played our entire lives. Well we beat Team X who beat Team Y who crushed Team Z, so theoretically we should handle Team Z with ease.
And it makes sense, right?
In mathematical terms it is called the transitive property. You know, that property we are all brainwashed with in 6th grade? If a>b and b>c, then we can conclude that a>c.
Logical enough…. except when it isn’t. Extrapolation of the property can be dangerous.