Punchinello’s Chronicles

May 8, 2009

Anything Can Happen

Filed under: The Great Adventure! — Punchinello @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

I was listening to Sean Hannity talking with James Carville, going back and forth between the Republican and Democrat political position on things. Hannity made a proposition that if A happens, then B happens, then C happens, then D happens, the likelihood is that E will also happen. In other words, Hannity made a forecast based on trends and probabilities.

James Carville accepted that the various events were taking place (A, B, C, and D). But he disagreed with the forecast that E would take place, saying that “anything can happen.”

No, that’s not true. Not “anything” can happen. What will happen is based on the laws of reality, laws of physics, and the well-understood principles of human nature and behavior. The only way that “anything” can happen is if we introduce magic into our particular corner of the universe.

Conservatives have completely lost track of the fact that when many human beings come together with a specific intent or goal in mind, the complexities of each person can allow for an almost incalculable set of variables. When lots of people are trying to do one thing, “anything” might happen because there are so many possible things that might happen we can’t figure them out.

But it isn’t actually “anything” that can happen. ALL that happens must be part of reality and the laws governing that reality — our universe and framework. It only seems that “anything” can happen because we use the word “anything” as shorthand to mean, “there are so many possible factors, we can’t calculate them all in a meaningful way.” Even so, EVERY factor must be in accordance with reality, not magic!

For example, one football team fully intends to bring a ball through two goal posts. The other football team just as completely intends for them to utterly fail. If possible, the second team would like to steal the ball and bring it between the other, opposite goal posts. Can “anything happen?”

When the two teams are at the 50-yard line, starting a new competition, there are too many variables to factor into a prediction. Indeed, the ball might burst or a flying bird might hit the ball during a long pass. An earthquake might split the field, a runaway plane might slam into one or the other set of goal posts.

But ALL those possible variables might happen because they include the fact of reality in this framework. We know that planes exist and can crash. We know that birds do fly. We know that footballs do contain air pressure. We know that earthquakes do happen.

On the other hand, we can say that the ball won’t magically turn into a unicorn and decide on its own where it wants to go. Footballs do not have independent consciousness. We also know that the individual players won’t suddenly start to teleport around the field, materializing and dematerializing wherever they feel like being.

As the game progresses, there comes a point where Team A is on the 1 yard line. Team B has lost their three top players. Team A is ahead by 40 points. Team B has no points at all. At that point, we can forecast that Team A will win the game. We also can forecast that Team B will lose the game. That’s a logical statement, and although it may seem redundant or obvious, it still is a separate statement.

We also can make an educated guess that Team A probably will score another goal. It isn’t inevitable, and in fact, the ball might explode, an earthquake may occur, or a plane might crash into the huddle. The probabilities are extremely small, but they do exist. However, we still can say that there is no possible way whatsoever that the ball will turn into a unicorn!

James Carville is saying that in the scenario, that “anything can happen.” The implication is that Team B has an EQUAL chance of winning the game as they did at the very start of the game!

The foundation for this argument is not that anything can happen. It’s that at any time in any process, the probabilities are 50-50 that the outcome can go either way. No matter what! No matter what process, or event, or cause, or status, or conditions.

If you toss a coin 6,000 times and it comes down heads every single time, what are the odds that on the 6,001 toss, it will come down head? No, you don’t need a computer. The odds are 50-50. There only are 2 sides to a coin, and the probability of the coin landing on its edge are so small as to be meaningless.

Liberals like to begin with the statement that there are “two sides to every argument.” A cliché and metaphor. But they then carry it forward and assume that therefore, there is always a 50-50 chance that either side of an argument is true.

No, there are more than two sides to an argument! There are many more sides and options than only two. And that’s because there aren’t any physical “sides.” There are only arguments and counter-arguments. But ALL of those arguments must eventually take into account reality and the laws of physics.

Liberals like to hold up metaphors as facts of reality. We like the convenience and shorthand of saying that there are two sides to every argument. But that doesn’t at all mean that in reality, there literally are only two sides to every possible argument! The conservative problem is that we buy into the metaphor, then try to prove an argument based on nothing at all.

Trend analysis, prediction, forecasting all depend on probabilities. And probability theory is a function of mathematics. Mathematics is a language that describes reality itself. To say that “anything can happen” is to also say that mathematics are simply a matter of opinion. It’s to say that physics are all an opinion, based on feelings.

And so we’re left with the rest of the argument: “Well, anything can happen…so we’ll just have to wait and see.” The tragedy and horrific truth is that what we’ll eventually see can easily be irrevocable. If 10,000 people die in a terrorist attack predicated on a belief that “the war on terrorism doesn’t exist,” then we’ll just have to wait and see. And when we do see, those 10,000 people will still be really, truly, and irrevocably dead.

I wonder how many liberals will say that “anything can happen, and maybe those people will spontaneously come back to life?”

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