Chaos theory pioneer: Trump is actually hyperchaos

Donald Trump promised, again, that, no matter what it feels like from the outside, his White House is NOT in chaos, i...

Posted: Mar 6, 2018 1:07 PM
Updated: Mar 6, 2018 1:07 PM

Donald Trump promised, again, that, no matter what it feels like from the outside, his White House is NOT in chaos, in a tweet Tuesday morning.

At the same time, he admitted he has some staffing changes to make (not sure who!) so that seems like it falls short of any sort of equilibrium.

Here's that full Presidential tweet, for the record:

"The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!"

Trump was referring to staff changes, but the idea of chaos could be applied generally to the unpredictability he breeds.

Here's the Merriam-Webster definition:

Definition of chaos: noun cha-os \ -k----s \

1 a : a state of utter confusion - the blackout caused chaos throughout the city

b : a confused mass or mixture - a chaos of television antennas

2 a often capitalized : a state of things in which chance is supreme; especially : the confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms - compare cosmos

b : the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system (such as the atmosphere, boiling water, or the beating heart)

1a or 2b of that definition would seem to apply best here. In that, nobody is every really sure what the President is going to do next (2b) and it creates a state of confusion (1a).

Strictly speaking, Americans, for the most part, are getting up every day and going to work and the lights turn on and their paychecks clear and there's food in the supermarket. From that perspective, there is no chaos. But there is, without doubt, something completely different about the Trump era, in which a reality TV star and flamboyant billionaire was set loose by voters to change government. And you have no idea what he'll do next. On anything.

That's not chaos, according to James A. Yorke, Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Yorke, by they way, coined "chaos" as a mathematical term along with T.Y. Li in their 1975 paper "Period Three Implies Chaos." He's also no fan of Trump.

He describes chaos as like striking billiard balls.

"Chaos is bounded in some sense. You know the billiard balls are going to stay on the table, but they careen around on the table," he said, adding that it seems different with Trump.

"With Trump, the chaos is in many different directions. It might be better to call it hyperchaos. Seriously."

Yorke tried to distinguish between something random -- like the stock market, which will either go up or down -- and the weather, which is truly hyperchaotic and can be predicted, using many variables, to some degree of efficiency in the short term, but much worse in the long term.

A lot of what people do is try to cut down on chaos, said Yorke.

"Everything about our lives tend to be a bit chaotic. But we work hard to constrain the chaos so that we know what can happen," he said. "Like airbags are constraining the chaos in cars."

Yorke, who, again, is no fan of Trump, is most worked up this week about the idea of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which Trump proposed seemingly on a whim last week, shocking members of his own party. He has since seemed to modulate that proposal as a NAFTA bargaining tool.

"When he does things which hurt the US, that really doesn't fit the example of purposeful chaos," he argued.

Chaos Theory or Madman Theory

Trump's erratic behavior has already drawn many comparisons to a different and totally unrelated theory: the "Madman Theory," which used by Richard Nixon as a geopolitical chess move against the Soviets and the Chinese. Nixon, according to lore, consciously tried to portray himself as unstable to give himself a hand-up over US adversaries in the Cold War.

Trump, consciously or not, has been applying this madman principle in ways Nixon would never have dreamed. And that's helped create the feeling of chaos.

On foreign policy -- Throw out decades of US foreign policy to engage North Korea, but don't engage diplomatically. Rather, treat the young despot running that nuclear-ambitious country as a shoolyard rival and bring out the bravado. Is that why North Korea and South Korea are suddenly in talks? Who knows.

Trump tweeted on North Korea today, too, by the way, saying the US would equally pursue either diplomacy or confrontation.

"Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!"

On domestic policy -- Seem to advocate one day for a liberal or middle-of-the-road position on immigration or guns and revise that to a hard line days later. Neither immigration nor guns bills have passed Congress, so ...

"He canceled the program for the 'Dreamers' and he said, 'Well, we'll fix it.' But he can't fix it," Yorke pointed out.

On the other hand, Trump's willingness to change sides and work with Democrats did shock the heck out of Republicans and yield one short-term government funding bill last year.

That didn't help him play a huge role in talks over a longer-term budget bill that passed early in 2018, but it did add to the impression that he has no specific agenda on most issues.

"The next thing he's likely to do is something completely unrelated to what he's done in the past," said Yorke. "The uncertainty is mult-dimensional."

Hyperchaos. Get used to it.

Terre Haute
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 86°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 85°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 86°
Rockville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 79°
Casey
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 87°
Brazil
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 86°
Marshall
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 86°
Low chance of storms tonight with clearing conditions
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Ryan Lieberman

Image

Zoe Stewart

Image

WVFCA Friday Night Lights

Image

Tim Hayes

Image

Keeping your house cooler without running the A.C. all day

Image

Several local groups partner to help you learn new job skills

Image

Duke Energy says scammers have a new tactic to steal your information, and it involves refund checks

Image

Richland County sees an increase in young people contracting COVID-19

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 154094

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook951384711
Lake10318428
DuPage9641485
Kane8078281
Will7223325
Winnebago3156105
St. Clair2265144
McHenry2248102
Kankakee141466
Unassigned1180201
Rock Island116930
Madison116770
Kendall104823
Champaign103817
Peoria64430
DeKalb63720
Boone63521
Sangamon51933
Jackson35119
McLean31515
Randolph3107
Ogle2964
Stephenson2836
LaSalle25417
Macon25022
Clinton24717
Whiteside20915
Union20519
Grundy1935
Coles19017
Iroquois1755
Tazewell1728
Knox1680
Adams1671
Monroe15513
Williamson1554
Warren1490
Cass1388
Morgan1343
Jefferson11417
Henry1111
McDonough10615
Lee1052
Vermilion892
Pulaski840
Marion770
Montgomery731
Macoupin673
Douglas610
Perry611
Jo Daviess541
Livingston542
Christian504
Jasper477
Woodford462
Franklin450
Ford421
Clark400
Jersey401
Bureau372
Menard310
Effingham301
Cumberland290
Mercer290
Johnson270
Washington250
Alexander240
Fayette243
Mason240
Moultrie240
Wabash230
Piatt210
Bond201
Carroll202
Crawford200
Hancock201
Logan200
Shelby201
Edgar190
De Witt180
Wayne181
Fulton160
Massac160
Saline160
Schuyler130
Lawrence120
Marshall120
Brown100
White100
Richland90
Greene80
Henderson80
Hamilton70
Gallatin60
Pike60
Stark60
Clay50
Edwards50
Hardin20
Calhoun10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193