Log in

No account? Create an account

Learned a new word today...

"clinamen", in this Politico piece.

Apparently it means an event that "just happens" for no particular reason. The term was originally used in connection with the classical Greek "atomic theory", which (in a curious prefiguring of Brownian motion) postulated that the atoms from which everything is made are constantly swirling unpredictably. So, for example, if by chance most of the atoms in a container are momentarily on the left side, thus exerting measurable pressure in that direction, the resulting pressure is a clinamen.

The author uses the term to suggest that in a complex system such as a U.S. Presidential campaign, actions have such unpredictable consequences that hidden conspiracies are unlikely to have much net effect distinguishable from background noise.