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There's a lot of really strong dynasty analysis out there, especially when compared to five or ten years ago. But most of it is so dang practical-- Player X is undervalued, Player Y's workload is troubling, the market at this position is irrational, take this specific action to win your league. Dynasty, in Theory is meant as a corrective, offering insights and takeaways into the strategic and structural nature of the game that might not lead to an immediate benefit but which should help us become better players over time. (Additionally, it serves as a vehicle for me to make jokes like "theoretically, this column will help you out".)
Closing Thoughts on Paradigms
Dynasty, in Theory returned this year after a five-year hiatus, and for my first column of the season, I talked about paradigms, or ways of looking at things. Paradigms are the quintessential topic of a theoretical column like this because no matter what paradigm you use, it doesn't do a thing to change the underlying reality. It is theory in the purest form.
I talked about how our lives are ruled by paradigms, many of which we aren't even aware of. For instance, most of us don't realize that every teacher who ever told us that the earth revolves around the sun was lying to us (or, more charitably, misinforming us). The statement "the earth revolves around the sun" is no more and no less true and valid than the statement "the sun revolves around the earth". Motion is always relative to a chosen frame of reference, and the two statements merely adopt a different frame.
So why have we as a society decided to adopt one frame over the other, to say that "the earth revolves around the sun" is correct and "the sun revolves around the earth" is incorrect? Because a model where the earth revolves around the sun is simpler to solve mathematically than a model where the sun revolves around the earth. That's it. We can still track and model the movement of the heavenly bodies using a paradigm that everything revolves around the earth, it's just that the math is harder.
But "optimize for whichever paradigm produces the simpler math" is a value judgment, and value judgments are neither right nor wrong. They're simply personal preferences.
While the "simpler math" benefits favored a heliocentric ("sun-centered") model, there are perhaps philosophical benefits to a geocentric ("earth-centered") model. Heck, if I were of a mind, I could even declare that the proper frame of reference for all motion in the universe was me personally and while the math would become harder still, I'd be no more right or wrong than all of your elementary school teachers. (Remember this the next time someone tells you the universe doesn't revolve around you.)
Afterward, I joked on Twitter that I never even got into Tychonic Cosmology, and Footballguys' Sigmund Bloom told me not to threaten him with a good time, so I promised I'd revisit the subject.
You see, Tycho Brahe was a rather practical astronomer. He lived in the late 1500s, and while he recognized the mathematical benefits of the Copernican system ("everything revolves around the sun"), he wasn't ready to discard the comfort offered by the Ptolemaic system ("everything revolves around the earth"). While Brahe was no stranger to religious arguments and occasionally cited the Bible for why the earth should be considered the center of the universe, his primary objection was aesthetic: it didn't "feel" like the Earth could be moving as fast as the Copernicans said.
Just look at the earth; everything about it screams fixed, sturdy, stable, reliable. "...such a fast motion could not belong to the earth, a body very heavy and dense and opaque, but rather belongs to the sky itself whose form and subtle and constant matter are better suited to a perpetual motion, however fast," Brahe wrote.
So what did Brahe do? Did he settle for one flawed paradigm or the other? No, he created his own model known as geoheliocentrism ("earth-centered sun-centered"). The sun, moon, and stars all revolved around the earth. The planets and other elements of our galaxy revolved around the sun.
Again, Brahe's paradigm wasn't right, any more than any of the other paradigms are right. But it was useful to him; it allowed him to combine the mathematical simplicity of one model with the philosophical comfort of the other.
And that's the lesson I want us all to take away. Paradigms are the lenses through which we interpret our experiences. Often they are invisible to us. Typically we accept the paradigms we are given without even considering that we could use any other. Our teacher tells us that the earth revolves around the sun, and we assume that's the end of the story.
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