McCain v. Obama: The Ceteris Paribus Assumption Fallacy

By Gayle Plato-Besley

Ceteris Paribus: ‘All other things being equal’

There’s a time in life when we are all presented the field of play. Some walk forward- a bit green, fresh, albeit fragile- awaiting a beating, while dreaming of glory.  Others walk out, onto the front lines,with rough-edged experience and tactical knowledge.  Either way, we each choose to play. 

It’s in the moment of choice that we can just chuck it all and sideline the life before us.  It may just be a game, or maybe it’s a crossroad with many paths of living present.  We cannot know it all, and the trade offs present dilemmas.  For some, it’s the torment of what could be. The analysis of the options can turn a man to stone.  Hardened to the play, he can forget why he’s even standing there.  But life isn’t a metaphor and we can’t hold all else constant.

One of my Economics professors beat into our empty college heads how analysis is only as good as the conditions.  He talked of this Latin phrase, and how scientific theory requires the observer to hold constant potentially mitigating factors as they might cloud the pure study. Ceteris paribus makes perfect sense in a controlled study, but as my professor noted, equalizing the playing field denies the unpredictability of real life. 

James Gleick, world renowned writer and theorist, talks of Chaos Theory: Scientists coming to understand that there is undeniable randomness, and yet patterns in the random events.  Quantum Physics brings to light the reality that the tiniest particles of life do not function in any manner like we do. Quanta, or the invisible units of energy, are not predictable.  Quantum Physics presents this simple point of how observation makes its own reality:(http://library.thinkquest.org/3487/qp.html)

An observation is only valid in the context of the experiment in which it was performed. If you want to say that something behaves a certain way or even exists, you must give the context of this behavior or existence since in another context it may behave differently or not exist at all.”

The Copenhagen Interpretation

So sometimes a particle acts like a particle and other times it acts like a wave. So which is it? According to NielsBohr, who worked in Copenhagen when he presented what is now known as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory, the particle is what you measure it to be. When it looks like a particle, it is a particle. When it looks like a wave, it is a wave. Furthermore, it is meaningless to ascribe any properties or even existence to anything that has not been measured21. Bohr is basically saying that nothing is real unless it is observed.”

We can only know a man, a candidate, by his ventures and his actions on the field of play.  We observe him and see who he is. The men we see today running for President are only significant if we observe them and make our witness to the play known.  Who is John McCain and what has he done?  Do we see his record and have we witnessed his life experiences?  What of Barack Obama?  Do we have a record of seeing this man in play?  We cannot judge a man unless we see him perform and keep records of his efforts.  We can only judge the man by his observable choices, associations, and critical, tactical decisions.  We can see if he has a record of error, but we can also reference how he handled mistakes and hurdles. 

Intellectuals like to see themselves as of scientific mind.  Egg heads run control groups and look at crunched numbers.  But, in truth, the college brains holding everything else constant make the Ceteris Paribus Assumption Fallacy- they assume that everything they deem unrelated is also equally unimportant.  Egg heading liberals are affirming a win, putting Obama on the U.S. Presidential-like seal, and acting as if all criticisms of Obama are of equal weight.  They think they can run this campaign like a scientific experiment of days gone by. This isn’t Chem 101, and scientific control group theory is a dinosaur

We see the McCain camp presenting what is observable about their opponent. Whether the Democrats like it or not, there is a valid analysis in McCain’s funny and timely advertisements.  Paris Hilton is famous for being famous and quite a few Americans get the comparison to Mr.Obama. Chaos ensued, and Obama is miffed.  The reality of judgment, and the result of the conservative collective prospective, are messing up the game.

So the odds of Obama hitting the three pointer while play B-ball with the troops, or the likelihood that a Western Wall prayer gets plucked and printed while still in Israel, or the hot microphones of ‘insight caught’ every other day- which act is random and what ones are examples of an underlying pattern?

Barack Obama is only real when being observed and We the People all bear witness.  John McCain has a longer history of being and doing.  He can be remembered and referenced.  His mistakes are well-documented and his own voice can be heard to say he’s changed his mind on issues.  He has a past and can name his place in history. While his future is to be determined, he has a record of choosing to get in the game.  He’s not known for his free throws and he’s not Ivy League anything. McCain is really here and we can recall his valiant efforts while in a real fight.  McCain is battered and played out as a warrior. His now is as the great coach who can see the plays possible and knows the difference between theory and reality of playing with the big boys.

Barack Obama is like a Quanta of energy. A true paradox: Obama is a duality of particle and wave.  He moves according to the observer; sometimes he is a solid being and other times he’s a wave of emotion.  Either way, he is only real when observed.

One of the strangest definitions or explanations of the Paradox of Quantum Theory is  Schrodinger’s Cat- 
A cat, along with a flask containing a poison, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence.  If a Geiger counter detects radiation then the flask is shattered, releasing the poison which kills the cat.  Quantum mechanics suggests that after a while the cat is simultaneously alive and dead, in a quantum superposition of coexisting alive and dead states.  Yet when we look in the box we expect to see the cat either alive or dead, not a mixture of alive and dead.

‘Schrödinger’s Cat: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If a Geiger counter detects radiation then the flask is shattered, releasing the poison which kills the cat. Quantum mechanics suggests that after a while the cat is simultaneously alive and dead, in a quantum superposition of coexisting alive and dead states. Yet when we look in the box we expect to see the cat either alive or dead, not a mixture of alive and dead.”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_Cat)

So, if Schrodinger’s Cat of Quantum can be alive or dead, can he be both at once?  Or, is he just an illusion created only by the desire to see him?

 
 

 


Comments

  1. Excellent analogy. When in the bright white light of a camera he is a particle only to become a wave upon the appearance of the instant sound bite.

  2. Thanks for that. It’s one of my more oddball comparisons.

  3. nightcrawler says

    Gayle,

    Very thoughtful post, my question to you is..

    If someone asks you the time, will you build them a clock ?

    So in summary.. Obama simply does not have the body of work for the average voter to make an informed decision.

  4. Nightcrawler,

    If someone asks me the time, I’ll tell him it’s all relative 🙂

  5. Holy cow, what the heck was all that?

  6. I am very happy that I found this site.

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