Petty Hates : People Who Don’t Understand The Butterfly Effect

I was at the Liverpool v Chelsea match at Anfield last weekend.  After a fairly even first half, Liverpool scored twice at the beginning of the second half to take control of the game.  Or at least they should have taken control.

In truth, Liverpool were awful and Chelsea were on fire.  Eden Hazard had two great chances to score either side of the hour mark. First he ran on to Emerson’s ball but shot against the post. Then he met Willian’s cross first time but Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson saved.  Liverpool were hanging on, but managed to do so to secure a 2-0 win.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – APRIL 14: Eden Hazard of Chelsea shoots past Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker but hits the post during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on April 14, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

I got home and went to see my cousin who was having some technical issues with his new tablet.  As I was working out that it was because he was putting spaces in an e-mail address instead of underscores, he we telling me that “it should have been 2-2 if Hazard have scored his two chances.”

I couldn’t disagree more.  It could have been 2-2, sure, but not with any degree of certainty that Hazard’s second shot (the one that was saved by Alisson) would have constituted the equaliser.  That’s because, of course, had the first shot not have hit the post and bounced safely away but rather gone in to the net for the first goal, the second chance may not  have even presented itself, certainly not in the superposition I was living that afternoon.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.  If the ball had gone in the goal, it didn’t not go in, meaning that the events thereafter would be different.  If it went in the goal, Hazard would have celebrated and the game would have been restarted by a kick off.  As it happens, it didn’t go in, and the game didn’t restart because it didn’t stop.

It annoys me that people don’t realise this, especially in this sort of circumstance.  We all know that every action has consequences, some smaller than others, some foreseeable and some not.  Or at least I thought we all knew!

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