Apr 20

The Subtitle and Schrödinger’s Cat

In Brief—The author raises the question of whether this blog’s subtitle is an invitation or a hindrance to debate.


Daughter Kathy, thinker and writer—the person who built this blog for me—has suggested that the DeBaytable blog subtitle, “Are there at least two sides to every issue? Maybe.” implies that I think there is often only one viable conclusion and that my view is the right one. On the other hand, I maintain that the subtitle suggests that there are one or several valid arguments that can be made in support of or in opposition to the subject. Though a stretch, it’s sort of like Erwin Schrödinger, the Austrian physicist’s quantum mechanics hypothesis that a cat is either dead or alive depending the viewer’s point-of-view.

Put in practical terms, Kathy has expressed the belief that the subtitle keeps some readers who hold contrary views from challenging my position on a subject. Her view is that the subtitle discourages discussion and, in fact, may drive some readers away. I argue that readers are at any time free to challenge opinions I express and that the subtitle is in keeping with the blog’s premise that a subject may or may not be debatable. It depends, like Schrödinger’s cat, on the reader’s point-of-view.

A current example of a subject that I think supports only one valid argument is human-caused climate change. The evidence is overwhelming that such is the case with virtually all climate scientists supporting the evidence. On the other hand, a subject that has at least two sides is whether the American drone war policy dominating the Middle East is beneficial or harmful to the United States. One side states that drones kill enemies without putting American lives at risk while another side argues that for every purported “enemy” killed, five new enemies are created. Still another position maintains that war is counterproductive. Though these issues have not yet been raised on this blog, they nevertheless illustrate debatable subjects.

Within the subjects discussed on this blog, that of free will aroused some heated opposition while that dealing with intelligent animals raised not a single objection. Similarly, the punishment of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning was one that was open to debate while my experiences in the early world of TV did not call for positions pro or con. That the Manning piece did not result in comment opposing my position that s/he was unjustly punished reflects my guess that readers were letting me be me rather than that the subject was not debatable or that they were put off by the subtitle.

Fact of the matter is that you readers can choose the position that the subtitle is either limiting, neutral or an invitation to debate. I invite you to let me know what you think on the issue. Don’t just let Bay be Bay. Let me know what you really think.


Skip to comment form

  1. If there were not different opinions on at least some subjects (and I would argue on virtually all) then what would be the point of the blog? Would we read just to have you tell us what is true and what is not? Do we see you as a guru, or as someone who raises issues so we can think and share ideas? And sharing ideas implies some differences of opinion or experience. Seems pretty obvious to me.

    And if some posts draw no response, then maybe people just aren’t engaged enough in a given subject to respond.

      • Don Bay on April 20, 2014 at 16:23

      Guru I am not and have no interest in being one. All I want is for my readers to think about what I have written because, for good or ill, what I write is what I honestly believe. Based on the responses I get, both through public comments in this blog or privately through emails, at least my words are leading some readers to think about what I have written. While that is good, I hope that whether you agree or disagree, you will let me know. In any case, let me know if I am putting you off unintentionally by the subtitle. I won’t alter my belief system, but at least I can respond. Keep reading folks! And thanks for the thoughtful comment, Jim.

  2. There are many facets on a gem!

      • Don Bay on April 21, 2014 at 10:50

      Short but complimentary…I think. Thanks! Speaking of gems, I am led to think of “precious” as in platinum. Thieves are stealing catalytic converters in Southern California. It happened to my daughter last week and has been happening all over. The car was in a carport (unprotected). The thieves, under cover of darkness in a good neighborhood, jacked the car up and ripped the converter out. A catalytic converter usually contains platinum which is worth a lot. Be warned! Don’t leave your car unprotected. Tell your friends and acquaintances likewise. So why put such a warning in my reply? My readers are good people and I figure this is a good way to get the warning out there. And thanks, Shelley, for the compliment and the chance to warn folks.

  3. I will admit that I lean towards your daughter’s opinion here.
    Upon first reading the subtitle, my thought was that you were only ‘Maybe’ allowing for an opinion other than your own. Knowing you, I realize that that is not true, despite the difficulty one might have in changing yours. And, after all, you DO believe that your opinion is the correct one…..why else would you state it.

    Might I suggest one alternative; a simple juggling of words that nullifies the question, yet implies that other opinions may not be accurate or correct ….. ‘There are at least two sides to every issue. Maybe‘.

      • Don Bay on April 21, 2014 at 16:14

      I struggled for some time with the subtitle. First, after surveying similar blogs about whether the blog should even have a subtitle, I decided that a subtitle would invite readers to debate (the blog’s title) the issues I discussed. After deciding that a subtitle was necessary, I wrote down some four or five possibles. I backed-and-forthed on the subtitles I tentatively wrote down. Daughter Kathy (who built the blog for me) expressed her opinions, disagreeing on the one I ultimately selected. I chose the one that graces the blog because I thought a question format left open the possibility that one or more views would be possible. The “Maybe” was supposed to emphasize my point. By changing the subtitle to a positive as you suggest, I believe that it emphasizes the possibility of more than two sides to every issue while the “Maybe” injects not enough doubt as I see it.

      That’s the evolution of the subtitle. The piece states my reasons for sticking with the chosen subtitle. Since you know me well, you know I want to avoid pushing readers away. Rather, I hope to invite debate if a reader disagrees. I have interpreted your “lean towards” as being only lukewarm based on your familiarity with me. Nevertheless, I will think about your view and weigh whether the subtitle should be changed at some point. Though lukewarm, I genuinely appreciate your expressing your view of the issue.

  4. Jim makes some good points, especially that all or nearly all subjects are open to debate. As human beings, our view of the world around us is simply too subjective to believe that any one person has the “correct” answer or “the truth.”

    This is more than some philosophical abstract. We can see it in operation every day, as people disagree on seemingly the most obvious things. For example, three of us were looking at a car last week. I saw the car as grey, while my husband and his friend said it was green. Even after two or three other people said it was green, I just couldn’t see it. Ask any two or more people who witnessed a given event, and you’ll get more than one version of what happened and what they saw. It’s just the nature of how our minds and perception work.

    I still think the “Maybe” could be left off the subtitle to make it more inviting. But that’s just my subjective opinion. 🙂

      • Don Bay on April 21, 2014 at 16:50

      I agree with you and Jim that each individual has his/her own subjective view of the world. Research bears this out. Were it otherwise, we’d live in a very boring world. This bears on the subject posed by the piece: whether readers are invited to debate if they disagree or are put off by the subtitle. Naturally, as the author of this blog (by now, you may realize you have created a monster), I am willing to put my thoughts out there for good or ill. I hope that my belief that my opinion is THE ONLY OPNION worth having (doesn’t everybody feel that?) won’t make my readers feel that they can’t challenge my view.

      As a lawyer and old guy with gazillions of years of experience, I enjoy a good challenge to my possibly ossified views. You and my other readers who have expressed contrary views make me think and weigh the points you make, they don’t just sail by unnoticed. Fact is, that you may even have inherited my inclination to oppose views that are counter to your own. Good! Keep making me think and weigh. I hope others will do likewise if they disagree with stuff I write. BUT, readers are advised to tell me why they disagree. Then, we may have a debate. After all is said and done, I’m not entirely ossified.

    • Linda on April 22, 2014 at 19:50

    Hmm….interesting. Interesting because when I read “There are at least two sides to every opinion. Maybe” it made me chuckle. Whether you meant it to give readers a chuckle, a bit of humor, that’s how I perceived it and at the same time, it also implied that there are some issues you hold an absolute opinion about, like most of us. I chuckled knowing that, too.

    I wondered, after reading the previous comments, if my take is because I know you or if it is because i just seem to find humor in odd places and I’ve also interpreted things differently. Really. I could tell ya stories of how I interpreted things in a way no one i know of ever would have. So do I think it turns people off and away? Beats me! And, if you’re taking some kind of vote, well, I will just say that I like smiling and chuckling and having a little inside joke for myself now and again!

      • Don Bay on April 23, 2014 at 11:28

      It’s the frustration I occasionally experience at so few comments, either public or private, that drove me to write this piece. Again, for the record, readers are always free to disagree with my views. That said, as I once said, never make the mistake of believing that others think as you do. If readers choose to read and remain silent, that’s their choice and I must accept that. Certainly, the variety of reactions expressed in the comments leads me to the conclusion that each person interprets a word or a phrase in his/her own unique way.

      As for the “Maybe,” it reflects my skewed view of the world. Maybe the irony of the “Maybe” just doesn’t appeal to some readers. Any person who enjoys the irony of Jonathan Swift and the quirky humor of Charles Addams, Gary Larson, George Carlin and Tom Lehrer, can’t be all bad. Readers will just interpret the “Maybe” however they will. It’s there because I believe it injects a lightly humorous measure of doubt in a hoary saying. It’s there because I often feel doubt, and I sometimes make the mistake of believing others think as I do. At the end of the day (jeez, I hate that saying almost as much as “Bottom line is…”), this blog reflects my views and readers are free to agree, remain neutral or disagree. The choice is yours.

        • Linda on April 23, 2014 at 17:42

        If you go to other blogs, do you ever invite people to your blog? Actually, if any of your participants go to other blogs, I would encourage them to reference your blog with address. I am new to this. Yours is the only site that I have ever participated on and maybe the second blog site I’ve visited!

        Blog on, Don Bay! You have lots to say that stimulate the mind!

          • Don Bay on April 23, 2014 at 18:20

          Thanks for the tip, Linda. I am very reluctant to push my blog on other sites. Seems too pushy to me. If readers mention my blog on another site, that’s another thing, but that’s up to them. And besides, many of my readers visit my blog because they’re friends and may not visit other similar blogs. Still, it’s a good idea. I’ll have to give it some thought, particularly since I have a Gravitar and there may be similar blogs worth visiting and submitting a comment besides Barry Eisler’s.

Comments have been disabled.