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Searching for Conspiracy

In undergrad I wrote a scene for a class that was supposed to train us in how to notate scripts for lighting, camera shots, etc. The scene used the idea of a conspiracy junkie (and I actually was at the time) being told that the only true conspiracies were the ones that seemed to innocuous to actually be conspiracies, the antagonist ended the scene with the line, “that’s why they never fail.” It didn’t actually have a context and the plot lived and died with that one scene. We didn’t shoot it in class instead opting for some segment in a soap opera or something like that.

The protagonist asks about the more popular theories that existed at the time (late 90s) most of them were explained by the axiom called “Hanlon’s razor” which states that “one should never attribute to conspiracy what can be explained by stupidity.” I bring it up now because I think it bears relevance to something that I read on Deadmoneywalking’s journal regarding a memo Governor Schwarzenegger sent to the California State Assembly. Apparently the first letter of each line can be read as “I Fuck You” or in the more normal way “Fuck You” in order. No squinting, no bible code shenanigans, no Mayan-look-at-it-a-certain-way-and-the-planets-line-up, it is there plain as day.

The author of the blog entry wanted to know what the odds are of this happening randomly, obviously she is attributing a malice behind it since there was some snag between the Governor and a state Assemblymen (but motive? I don’t think so) so she asked two math professors. One gave the low estimate of 1 in 10,000,000 simply by raising 10 to the 7th power. I would like to see a wider formula on how he even came to that simply an idea. the odds of the first letter being “I” are 1/26, not counting numbers or special signs so wouldn’t the formula be 27 to the seventh power?

Anyway the high estimate comes from the second person who also factored in the spaces needed to place the letters in the right places and he came to 1 in 2,000,000,000. Personally, I am more willing to go with the second estimate since it helps my case all the more. See, I think this is total bullshit and believe the governor’s “message” to be random. One might think that would compel me to go with the former, lower odds but it doesn’t. No matter how much the odds stack against the natural occurrence of “fuck you” appearing in the message it has to be random because most people don’t understand probability anyway let’s do a simple experiment:

Open up minesweeper on your computer and change the difficulty to hardest (or the size to largest). This gives a 16×30 grid which means 480 tiles. There are 99 mines on this board which gives us the probability of 99/480 of hitting a mine. We can boil that down to .20625 or for simplicity’s sake 20%. So that means that 20% of your clicks are going to be mines. The way the author is using probability is to use it cold and machine-like, equating this with mine sweeper means that only one out of every five clicks should be a mine. Try and make it to four clicks three times in a row. Very soon, if you are like me, you will begin to posit a malice in the machine that is moving the mines around.

Where Hanlon’s razor fits in is that they are attributing to malice what can be explained by the author’s stupidity. Obviously the author doesn’t like the governor and is trying this stretched bit of logic using the aegis of math to push intent where there is none. I have no particular feelings regarding Arnold as a politician: he will never be president unless the Constitution is changed and I think most of the state’s problems seem to be a result of the initiative system so I am not defending him out of political loyalty. To further back up my claim I was going to make first eight lines of this post read “b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t” but it was very difficult.

If Arnold or his staff took the time to do this then kudos to them. It’s very difficult unless you are writing poems or shortening/lengthening the margins. Furthermore this isn’t even that bad for him anyway, he did call the state assembly a bunch of “girlie men” back when he was first elected.

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