Joel Liebesfeld, May 31, 2017
Joel Liebesfeld is a consulting forensic engineer, and a very smart man. He spends his professional life analyzing accidents to determine their cause. Those same skills are equally applicable to politics, to people, and to life in general.
What do Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have in common? This is not a trick question, but rather a reflection on a conversation that I recently had with Alan Z. The question we’d been discussing was: how is it that most of the global political arenas and in particular that of the United States, have become so convoluted? I thought about it for a couple of days and arrived at the following.
When pondering the various scenarios that brought our political system to where it is, I focused on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the numerous pictures of Clinton holding her cell phone during various meetings, the issues surrounding her use of a private server in her home, Trump’s obsession with Twitter, and the seemingly endless White House leaks being routed through social media. Given all that, it dawned on me that modern day politics have been bastardized by the constant tweaking that alleged secrets go through when they get passed on from one party to another. We all learned this as children when we played “telephone,” wherein a secret was whispered from ear to ear, and even when we attempted to relay the message accurately, it became totally transmuted after only a few repetitions. When information is filtered through social media, we don’t even have the presumption of the intent to transmit it accurately.
In my opinion, it’s far more likely that Clinton lost the election less because of former FBI Director Comey and his late breaking revelations, than the distortions of facts as they passed through various channels and networks while the bottom line truth remained mostly undiscovered. On the other hand, Trump has been repeatedly shooting himself in both feet by all too frequently by releasing self-destructive and unnecessary tweets that certainly do not coincide with what we expect from the President of the United States. And when his tweets continually contradict both his staff and each other, even without being massaged through the social media, the result is growing confusion and frustration.
Defining a problem is the first step in using the scientific method for research. While considering the definition of this one, I found myself shouting, “Oh, grow-up!” Many politicians try to convey to millennials and perhaps most of the rest of us that they are really hip or cool with their usage of modern computerized communications. I think the growing sources of streaming channels for data/information, and the data itself has developed a life of its own. Moreover, the totality of data is accumulating at an accelerating rate to a point where clarity and the ability to understand most political issues may be a thing of the past.
Is this a living statement of the effect of entropy? Is this what must occur as human development begins to become integrated with artificial intelligence, resulting in a condition mathematically and philosophically equivalent to chaos? I believe external actors have interfered with both Clinton and Trump, and the migration of rerouted information surrounding them corrupted the effectiveness of both major political parties and thus the American political system.
Meanwhile, the global conditions brought about by North Korea, Iran, Syria, climate change, and ISIS remain terribly far away from solution, while internally we must still address our own healthcare crisis and growing level of home grown poverty, to name just a few.
Of course, over the long run, entropy always wins. But in the short term concerted effort can allow us to regain control, and that is essential if we are to focus on our real problems. Does anyone remember the outbreak of Ebola? Think about it.