Monday, November 21, 2016

"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future ..."

The above is one of many brilliant quotes usually attributed to Niels Bohr.

I spotted a classic illustration of what Bohr was talking about today while reading a powerful article about the current controversy over cryogenic freezing on the excellent website,

"The Conservative Woman"

(which you do not have to be a woman or a Conservative to find interesting.)

There was a set of links to the most recent articles by their US correspondent.

All six links discussed the US elections and the titles of the four which expressed a view on the likely or actual outcome were as follows:

"Hillary will win and grant an immigration amnesty"

"Trump takes the GOP ship down with him,"

"Trump's troops will rage, rage against the dying of the right."

"In the war on Washington, Trump won."

I have not bothered reading or linking to the erroneous predictions - not because they were necessarily silly, but because they were wrong and are therefore not particularly relevant. The last, however, is a mea culpa and I think this time the author makes some good points about why she and so many other people called it wrong.

Here are some extracts for that article - you can read the full thing by following the link above.

"I confess that Tuesday night did not go as I expected. I also confess that if someone had told me three years ago that Republicans would win the White House and both houses of Congress and that I would find the event unsettling, then I would have dismissed the prediction as I dismiss carnival fortune tellers."

I won’t rehash my objections to President elect Donald Trump ...  I also would have been unsettled by the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency."

"So what just happened? A comment from the thick of the night hit the nub. When the later returns started showing a pattern of Trump outperforming 2012 Romney across various groups, a liberal acquaintance asked: “What does it take to overcome Trump revulsion?”

It takes decades of expansive government power and eight years of an administration unreservedly using that power to do as it pleased. The Obama Administration was bound by neither law nor tradition, or even respect for the opposition.

People were so fed up with having to take whatever Washington dished out that they voted for Donald J. Trump. They found government more repulsive than the man. And the intellectual chattering classes — the media, the ivory tower, the party players —they all completely missed it.

One of the lessons for me today is: I’m a part of the miss. Oh, I saw the issues. My recurring theme of 2015 discussions among writers was ‘you don’t have to like Trump but you must pay heed to the frustration he represents.’ But I didn’t think frustration with federal government was high enough to get enough voters who would endure Trump.

I was wrong. Frustration with government is that high."

No comments: