09 May 2011

Flipping Odds

You flip a coin 10 times and it comes up heads 10 times in a row. What are the odds it comes up tails on the 11th flip?

Politician Skanky Thief has been mentioned as a possible suspect in 6 federal investigations. What are the odds he will be indicted before the elections? Would the odds change if I named him "Honest Bureaucrat"?

The political party you support has--on average--five criminal investigations against it a year. What are the odds it will not have any criminal investigations against it in the next 4 years?

The first question has a clear and obvious answer: 50-50. In other words, no matter what has happened before, a coin flip is just as likely to land heads as it does tails. Coins don't have memories or tendencies.

Moving on to Skanky Thief, the odds are more difficult to calculate. But think about it: if a person has been shown to have a tendency--good or bad--We know the odds favor that the tendency continue. So We intuitively think that Skanky Thief is just about a lock to go down, but Honest Bureaucrat might avoid a grand jury altogether. The problem in calculating the odds is not them, but Us: if We support Skanky Thief, in essence saying "He's My thief," then We ignore the tendency shown and think he's going to get away unscathed. If We hate Honest Bureaucrat's party/politics, then We ignore the tendency again and start preparing Our mental "I hope he drops the soap in prison" tirade. Unlike the coin, the politician has a memory and a tendency. (Like the coin, the politician lacks a conscience.)

Now what about the political party? If you think about it a bit, you'll realize that calculating the odds here is still fuzzy, but easier than with the politician. Simple: Individuals are hard to predict, but systems and organizations are much less so. You grasp that instinctively, in the same way that you'll nod your head when I say that nearly every Catholic priest will come out vehemently against sexual abuse of children, but the Church will look the other way when the dozens of accusations come in every year.

So look at the political parties We have festering in Our political system and ask yourself: are they going to change? I use the example of criminal investigations, but you can substitute any topic or concern you have: education, energy policy, unemployment, ecology, drug abuse, whatever.  You know the answer.

So what about looking then at the individuals within the parties, to see if at that level We can find an outlier, a change agent, a difference maker? Too much work, you say? And that bias thing you have against members of the other party makes it impossible for you to look at "them" and see anything but "skanky thieves" compared to your "honest bureaucrats," right? The problem isn't "them": it's you.

But what choice do We have, if We want to change the system? (Not enough of Us do, but just string along here while I make My point.) The odds indicate that the skanky thieves We have steering Us like drunken monkeys are only that: thieving drunk monkeys. We aren't getting anything from them other than what We've seen. They ain't flipping to "competent nation builders" ever in Our space-time continuum. And the parties are built for and by thieving drunken monkeys to find more thieving drunken monkeys. Their "coin flips" are coming up "asses" with metronomic regularity. (I know it's supposed to be "tails"; synonyms rule.)

What's happening isn't random. We don't have this boozy con(wo)man circus of drunken
thieving monkeys by accident. The odds of something this huge and this consistent being an accident are slightly higher than that of a banana winning the Nobel Prize for Physics. Knowing that--and We do know it--it behooves Us to take matters back into Our own hands and break the system. Their system. We're given the open power to do so every four years, but We ignore the power We have every day to mold the system. Odds are, We're going to continue to ignore, to conveniently forget, that We actually do have the power and let the drunken thieving monkeys continue to flip Us off.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

KW said...

I'm reading through a fascinating book on "Postmodernism for Beginners," yes I know so bourgeois, right.

The book discusses leading postmodern thinkers, one of those being Baudrillard. In his book "The Shadow of the Silent Majority," I think he nails what you're trying to say here: "[we are] apathetic because [we] realize that any attempt to change the system will simply be co-opted by the system for its own ends."

I'm also reminded of something I found in Al Gore's book "An inconvenient truth." It is against man's nature to change a system from which he directly benefits.

Put apathy and a general resistance to change a system that lavishly doles out rewards, and you have a prescription for continued social decline and discontent.