December 03, 2006

Non-Factive 'Know' Watch

Carrollgambled because he knew that the Trojans could pick up the yard on fourth down.

Perhaps he forgot what happened the last time he went for a fourth-and-short at this stadium. USC failed to convert against Texas last January, and failed again Saturday.

Somehow this one seems especially egregious. Not so much because the claim isn't adequately justified (we often say things like "Bush knew that Saddam was an important funder of al-Qaeda," where there's no justification for it); perhaps because the narrative doesn't show any other signs of telling things from Carroll's point of view. Of course it could be argued that Carroll was right to think that they could pick up the yard; just because they didn't doesn't necessarily mean they couldn't.

Posted by Matt Weiner at December 3, 2006 08:19 AM

The sentence is interesting in that the verb "know" normally implies certainty, but the verb "gamble" normally implies uncertainty.

I was going to say this made the reading of "he knew for a fact it was physically possible for them to pick up the yard" indefensible, because you wouldn't say, "He gambled because he knew the ball could land on black 17."

But maybe you would say, "He gambled because he knew he could still make his gutshot straight."

Posted by: Richard at December 6, 2006 12:24 AM

Oh, in context it's clearer -- Carroll was gambling on third down (by calling a play-action pass), not on fourth. I should also say that I'm not at all convinced by the reading I propose in the last sentnece of the post.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at December 6, 2006 08:11 AM