Causality and the fundamental interconnectedness of all things

by webmaster on December 24, 2010

Just recently, BBC have shown the pilot for a new comedy series, Dirk Gently, based on the same character and series of books by the brilliant Douglas Adams. If you are familiar with this character you’ll know that he believes in the ‘fundamental interconnectedness of all things’. He uses this theory to solve various mysteries including his speciality: the disappearance of cats.
Now you’re wondering if I’ve suddenly lost it and forgotten that this is a science communication blog? Well no (though I may be guilty of a certain bit of indulgence in the fact that it is my blog) I haven’t, because one scientific principle that is often used as a plot construct is the one of causality. This is seen in every programmes or film that uses time travel… from Quantum Leap through Back To The Future through the Terminator series to Twelve Monkeys. Twelve Monkeys by the way is the best by far at providing an example of how causality can be handled in these type of films or programmes as it constructs a causality loop that avoids all the usual paradoxes and holds true no matter where you start.
The Dirk Gently episode (which may or may not be available to see online in your region – search for it on the BBC website) also handles causality very well, which is interesting in the fact of Mr Gently’s own main theory.
The interconnectedness theory just states that everything is… well… connected, but even though they may be, that doesn’t infer or establish causality. I am also a believer in fundamental interconnectedness especially when I’ve forgotten to purchase a lottery ticket! That’s the only thing that keeps me sane on those days: it allows me to believe that if my numbers come up, then they would not have come up if I had bought the ticket – tenuous I know but it works for me.
This difference between interconnectedness and causality allows me to say to those that claim that in some way the taking of cocaine by Gerry Ryan of RTE caused the death of anyone, either intentionally or unintentionally, as part of drug wars, that they are talking rubbish. Fundamentally interconnected they may be, but if you think that causality is proven, well, even a look at the un-peer reviewed Wikipedia will show you that you are mistaken. If you are looking for the causality for drug related crime, then you must go back to the single event that led to use of drugs for recreation in the west… back to the conquest of South America itself!

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