Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Uncertainty of Steroids

One of the major themes of my Rabbinate, and almost certainly the most common theme of this blog, is Uncertainty. I believe that the intellectual modesty of uncertainty is actually at the core of genuine religious faith - I've started to refer to myself, half-jokingly, as a radical anti-fundamentalist, because fundamentalism is really the opposite of uncertainty, and therefore, I believe, always wrong.

One of my biggest hobbies (read: time-wasters) is reading about baseball. My favorite baseball writer is Joe Posnanski (who can blog more in an afternoon than I can in a year).

Today, my worlds converge. Joe has written* about steroids in baseball, but not from the "oh my God, the sky is falling and all modern players are frauds and Mark McGuire is evil and dangerous to the children and things were better back in the days of pure baseball (when only whites were allowed to play and everyone did amphetamines and corked their bats and threw spitballs but let's not talk about that)" perspective.

* actually, he's written about this before, but this was just a wonderful example.

Rather, he writes about baseball and steroids in a thoughtful, nuanced way, which will make anyone who cares about these things acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, things aren't so cut-and-dried. Maybe we don't know everything we think we know, and maybe we should all just calm down.

I guess when it comes down to it, this is the thing that bothers me most about the steroid screaming: Why is it that people have to bring in all of these crazy exaggerations to the party? Why can’t we just talk about this stuff without getting livid? Why can’t we just do what Joe Paterno suggests we do about all of our problems, all of the mysteries, all of the disagreements: Just ask questions.
If you like thinking about intellectual modesty (and, who doesn't?), or if you care at all about the whole "Steroids in Baseball" thing, it's worth reading the whole article. Enjoy!

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