"The metaphor Beer uses, and the one I remember my friend Andrew using, is Le Chatelier's principle. This is from chemistry. It says that a system in equilibrium which is given a prod will change internally to counteract that prod and move into a new equilibrium. So let's say we're attempting to measure domestic violence by putting cameras in houses. Of course this method will change the nature and frequency of the violence, but rather than stopping at 'it changes,' Le Chatelier leaves open the possibility of figuring out what sort of change has occurred. What happens in other situations where we've used cameras?, we would ask. How have reports changed over time, to reach this new equilibrium? By acting on the system and looking at the responses, we can learn about its internal mechanics, which is a form of science I'm much happier with than the very Zen but not particularly helpful Uncertainty Principle."
Posted at 7:44 PM