The Robert Lee Situation Is a Schrodinger's Cat Thing, Just Hear Me Out

The Robert Lee Situation Is a Schrodinger's Cat Thing, Just Hear Me Out

Media Madness

The Robert Lee Situation Is a Schrodinger's Cat Thing, Just Hear Me Out

If he were still alive, I’m sure Erwin Schrödinger would be ranting to anybody who would listen that you’ve got it all wrong, see. He’s not the guy who thinks a cat in a box is simultaneously alive and dead as long as nobody is looking at it. No. That’s somebody else’s idea, and the famous Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment from 1935 that you’ve been making reference to in your internet memes was meant to poke holes in that idea, dammit. Not advance it. He even got a letter from Einstein praising the effectiveness of his paradox.

Yes, a “Schrödinger’s Cat situation” — which originates from the field of quantum mechanics — has found footing in contemporary culture by being misunderstood as a way of saying that what you don’t know won’t hurt you.

And so it is with Robert Lee, the ESPN broadcaster whose reassignment from one game to another would have no meaning and be worthy of no attention had we all not learned that the reason for it was a cosmic coincidence of no actual significance.

It doesn’t really matter who works which football games and why, but here’s where Schrödinger was right.

The rationale for ESPN’s decision — Robert Lee shares a name with Confederate general Robert E. Lee and they were afraid of memes getting made about it — is a silly rationale whether it was acted upon, expressed or silently pondered.

It became hilarious when everybody found out about it.

And I’m pretty sure Einstein would agree.

“You are the only contemporary physicist, besides Laue, who sees that one cannot get around the assumption of reality, if only one is honest. Most of them simply do not see what sort of risky game they are playing with reality—reality as something independent of what is experimentally established. … Nobody really doubts that the presence or absence of the cat is something independent of the act of observation.”

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