Monday, May 09, 2016

Schrödinger's Trump: Welcome to Quantum Politics

For years I’ve struggled to understand quantum theory.  For months I’ve struggled to understand Trump.   I understand both better now, because Trump has invented quantum politics and become Schrödinger's Candidate.

Do you know “Schrödinger's cat”?  This highly respected thought-experiment dramatizes how parts of the universe behave quite differently from our familiar reality (and from classical physics).  I’ve never been able to hold all the elements of the cat experiment in mind long enough to grasp “quantum superposition” or the “uncertainty principle.”

For those new to Schrödinger's cat, here’s a brief over-simplified summary - skip this section if you don’t need it.
 - photo of real cat in box with relevant items
Once upon time, a cat and a device are sealed together inside a box.  The highly sensitive and reliable device will release a deadly poisonous gas whenever it first detects even the smallest instance of radioactivity.  The box does not block radioactivity.  But, when closed, the box does not reveal anything about its contents.  Without opening the box, we cannot know whether the cat is alive or dead.
Yet when someone looks in the box, the cat will be seen to be either alive or dead.  So, within the closed box the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. That status is offered as an illustration of “quantum superposition.”

Now, how has Donald Trump helped me understand, finally, quantum superposition?  I.e., that until we open the box, the cat is BOTH alive and dead?  Isn’t that a contradiction?  And aren’t contradictions excluded from rational discourse by classical logic, mathematics, rhetoric, the legal system, ...journalistic standards?

Today (May 8, 2016) in “Trump, Truth and the Power of Contradiction,” Michael P. Lynch almost revealed how Donald Trump has finally brought us to the brink of understanding quantum uncertainty. Trump has embraced contradiction. Lynch writes “...Mr. Trump is most effective when he simply says the opposite of what he said before. In part, that’s because Mr. Trump’s contradictions are loud and confident….But it is also because when a person says something as well as its opposite, his listeners can infer that he really believes whichever statement they wish him to believe.”

But Lynch didn’t go quite far enough:  Trump’s contradictions are like Schrödinger's cat. Trump believes all the statements...until we open the box.  Trump is Schrödinger's Candidate!

Schrödinger's Candidate  
[“Schrödinger's Trump?” Or, may I immodestly call this Gilbert’s Candidate?]
Imagine a candidate for elected office unfettered by previous political achievement.  A candidate who has never exercised the power, or been restrained by the responsibility, of holding public office.  

Prior to the results of his first election, this candidate can, indeed, espouse contradictory policies, make contradictory commitments, and embrace contradictory principles.  During the campaign, no one can know which of two or more conflicting positions the candidate will take if he ever has the opportunity to do so.

The candidate’s most fervent, hopeful, and naive supporters can each believe that the candidate truly supports and will energetically pursue only their side of each contradiction.  But those of us who understand the new quantum politics know better:  Within the election campaign, the candidate is simultaneously pro and con.  Really.

Thank you, Donald Trump.

Steven W. Gilbert, May 8, 2016

PS:  How satisfying that only a Reality TV star could demonstrate so effectively a fundamental feature of Quantum Reality.

More…”Schrödinger's cat” in Wikipedia 20160508,

“Trump, Truth and the Power of Contradiction,” Michael P. Lynch, professor of philosophy, University of Connecticut, New York Times op-ed online as of May 8, 2016:
Print version, New York edition, New York Times, May 8, 2016,  page SR2 headline: “ Truth, Politics and the Power of Contradiction.”

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