The Worst Invention Ever


Other than providing Edgar Allan Poe with part of a great title to his short story, the Pendulum is the Pits. I realize that it may be difficult to rail against forces of nature, gravity, friction, etc., but the Pendulum has been responsible for more undoings – political, social, economic, personal – take your pick – than any other force in history. OK, maybe Money and God can claim top spot but the Pendulum can give them a run for their money.

The fundamental physical force and principal associated with the device is momentum. Once set in motion the Pendulum overshoots it’s mark by an amount just slightly less than its relationship to its initial starting point. The result, at its furthest point in motion, reflects a nearly  antithetical but equally extreme position as compared to it’s starting point. In terms of pure physics, friction will eventually stop its plumb at the center point, nothing being disturbed during the process except a few air molecules here and there.

However, Earth does not function solely within the universe of purely physics. No friends, Pendulums are put in motion by policies, legal systems, societal opinion makers, financial institutions, government agencies, the court of public opinion, etc. As a result, attempts to modulate, reform, or modify existing ‘norms’ are invariable taken to a counter-position usually as destructive, biased, one-sided and inappropriate as the original position that was rightly targeted for reform. The result of the overswing is often more damaging than the initial ill intended for revision.

Whether it is the Political Correctness movement, a government that has been installed with the intent of addressing justifiable and previous wrongs, an economic policy designed to improve inequality, they all suffer from overzealous application of the new rules, which can be as damaging to societies or individuals who populate them, as the original grievance being corrected was.

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