The graceful-exit problem

By Sean Carroll | November 29, 2005 3:51 pm

There’s an old physics joke about the stages of the reception of a new idea: first it’s considered to be wrong, then it’s considered to be trivial, before finally people are claiming that it was their idea first. Some of our more colorful colleagues have even mastered the art of claiming all three at once!

The question of whether or not we should expeditiously withdraw from Iraq seems to be working through the stages of this joke. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings points to an especially amusing example. Joe Biden (who, I think people on all sides can agree, is a craven opportunist if ever there was one) writes an editorial calling for a timetable for withdrawal. Right-wing hacks in the blogosphere and elsewhere jump all over the poor Senator, questioning his manhood and patriotism. Meanwhile, the White House congratulates Biden for coming up with a plan that was remarkably similar to their own. A slight communication problem for the ordinarily tightly-run noise machine.

The obvious next step: a joint Nobel Peace Prize for George W. Bush, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Saddam Hussein.


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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