Friday, June 24, 2022

Chaos Theory And The End Of Roe V Wade

 Probably the most famous characteristic of chaotic dynamics is the phenomenon known formally as sensitive dependence on initial conditions, which is more popularly known as the "butterfly effect." In such dynamics a small change in a starting value or a parameter value can rapidly lead to very different outcomes from what would have happened otherwise.  It was first clearly identified and labeled by the climatologist, Edward Lorenz, in 1963 in a paper in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.. While he showed it there, famously a matter of a sixth decimal place, it was much later that he provided the popular tale that "a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a hurricane in Texas."

It was Deirdre McCloskey who pointed out to me a literary historical example of this from Shakespeare's Richard III. "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the hoof was lost; for want of hoof the horse was lost; for want of a horse the knight was lost; for want of the knight the battle was lost; for want of the battle, the kingdom was lost." 

So we have a version of this underlying the decision of the US Supreme Court to revoke the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that granted the right to have an abortion, not to mention the other decisions that have just come down involving guns and Miranda rights, and so on.  I think I have figured out the equivalent of that nail in the Shakespeare line that amounts to the butterfly wing flap that led to this.

It gets down to a third rate politician, the embarrassingly named Andrew Weiner, who could not restrain himself from taking photos (and videos?) of his own erections that he would send to various women. He happened to be husband of Human Abedin, who unfortunately did not dump him earlier.  They stuck together, even as he continued this nonsense. Even more unfortunately she was a top aide of Hillary Clinton through all this. And even more unfortunately somehow some of these photos got onto a phone of Abedin's, a phone where there were emails from Hillary Clinton that should not have been sent.

So, 11 days before the 2016 presidential election, at a point when Hillary Clinton was leading Donald Trump in the race, FBI Director James Comey publicized a renewed investigation of how Hillary Clinton's emails had inappropriately gotton on Abedin's phone. The FBI became aware of this because they had been investigating Weiner's photographic games with his weiner and found her emails.  By the time of the election it was determined that there was no there there, but the result of the publicity surrounding the renewal of this investigation set off a decline in Clinton's polls, a decline that was sufficient to lead to Donald Trump winning the election.

And the rest is history, with him appointing the justices to the court who put these rulings over the line.

Barkley Rosser


run75441 said...


It may be the match lighting the flame of a revolt to a political court which "may" put more Democrats in power in the Senate and the House where we will not need Manchin or Sinema to pass legislation.

Something has to get a rise out of people.

They are angry, women especially. If this does not get a rise out of voters, not sure what will.

Anonymous said...

You are right of course, and I used to previously admire Weiner...a couple of other events that did not help were Reagan in 1980 distancing himself from his signing of an 1967 CA abortion rights bill while governor to secure the nomination and McCain putting Palin on as VP candidate to rally the base and release the kraken. I am no expert in chaos theory but we will have plenty of chaos in terms of judiciary wrangling and electioneering in regard to the two poor scotus decisions on guns and abortion. In economics we often talk how financial markets value certainty and stability but societies need it to. And it is ironic that they say nationwide that gun restrictions will be harder to justify by states but abortions restrictions or outright bans can be freely made by states.

2slugbaits said...

And it is ironic that they say nationwide that gun restrictions will be harder to justify by states but abortions restrictions or outright bans can be freely made by states.

It's actually worse than that. On the one hand conservatives argued for states' rights when it came to a state wanting to outlaw abortions, but in the wake of yesterday's ruling now they are simultaneously arguing for a national law to outlaw abortions that would trump any state laws such as New York's that would legalize abortions. Is this cognitive dissonance or unashamed hypocrisy?

Anonymous said...

Unashamed hypocrisy!

Anonymous said...

It was Deirdre McCloskey who pointed out to me a literary historical example of this from Shakespeare's Richard III....

[ This is incorrect. The proverb referenced is assuredly not from Shakespeare.


The Life and Death of Richard the Third
By William Shakespeare

Act V. Scene IV. ]

Anonymous said...


The Life and Death of Richard the Third
By William Shakespeare

Act V. Scene IV.

Bosworth Field.

Alarum: excursions. Enter NORFOLK and forces fighting; to him CATESBY


Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue!
The king enacts more wonders than a man,
Daring an opposite to every danger:
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.
Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!



A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!


Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse.


Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain to-day instead of him.
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

Exeunt said...

Thanks for correcting me, and I should say that I do not remember who Deirdre claimed said it. Also, the classic version has it that the horse was going to carry a rider who was to bear a message, and it was the lack of the message that led to the battle being lost.

So, I have checked on this, and this seems to be an old proverb with several variations and having appeared in several European languages in the Middle Ages, well before Shakespeare. At least one in Middle German dates to the 1200s.

Benjamin Franklin put a version of it into his Poor Richard's Almanack.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making the correction. Shakespeare never recited the proverb and Richard, failing to withdraw, will indeed find Richmond as wanted and be killed in the following scene:

SCENE V. Another part of the field.

Alarum. Enter KING RICHARD III and RICHMOND; they fight. KING RICHARD III is slain. Retreat and flourish. Re-enter RICHMOND, DERBY bearing the crown, with divers other Lords


God and your arms be praised, victorious friends,
The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead.

Anonymous said...

Tolstoy, by the way, dismisses at length the "butterfly flapping" theory of history in "War and Peace." The final 100 pages of War and Peace describe Tolstoy's theory of history. Isaiah Berlin discussed Tolstoy's theory of history in "The Hedgehog and the Fox," which counts among the very finest essays of the 20th century.

Shakespearean histories in no way draw on butterflies flapping for a mechanism.

Anonymous said...


The Hedgehog and the Fox
An essay on Tolstoy's view of history
By Isaiah Berlin

There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: 'The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing'. Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation of these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog's one defense. But, taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel--a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance--and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle; these last lead lives, perform acts, and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal, their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without consciously or unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision. The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes; and without insisting on a rigid classification, we may, without too much fear of contradiction, say that, in this sense, Dante belongs to the first category, Shakespeare to the second; Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Proust are, in varying degrees, hedgehogs; Herodotus, Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzak, Joyce are foxes. said...


Shakespeare is a hedgehog who knows only one big thing? I disagree. But then I have kind of always thought this Berlin distinction to be way overdone, although the extremes do fit some people.

And as for Tolstoy not believing in butterfly effects in War and Peace, in fact he looks more to me like he did. The outcome of the Battle of Borodino and what followed got down to some pretty small matters, if not quite as small as a missing nail for the shoe of a horse.

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare is a hedgehog who knows only one big thing?

[ That is precisely "not" what Berlin wrote. Quite the opposite. The Berlin essay is brilliant, as is Tolstoy's theory of history. As for Kutuzov and Borodino and the account of Tolstoy, the account surely needs to be read, possibly read a couple of times.

Tolstoy is presenting a brilliant way of looking at history in War and Peace, a way Shakespeare intuitively understood as Shakespeare's histories show. ]

Anonymous said...

January 8, 2016

What Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ can teach us
By Simon Schama

[ War and Peace could even be considered a "philosophy" of history, and as such is irreplaceable. ]

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare is a hedgehog who knows only one big thing?

[ No. Isaiah Berlin wrote quite the opposite, and this and why are critically important matters. ]

Anonymous said...

Also, I need to add that I am grateful for the fine post and gracious comments. I learned a lot from this, which I can emphasize in my writing, and that I look to history differently is no matter in this context.

Thank you so much.