Is the living world more a result of happenstance or repeatable processes?
Amazon’s television series The Man in the High Castle, based on the classic novel by Philip K. Dick, presents a nightmarish alternative 1962 in which the triumphant Nazi and Japanese empires occupy a fractured, defeated United States. This alternate history is spun from the imagined consequences of a minor change in a real event. On February 15, 1933, Giuseppe Zangara opened fire on president-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, Florida. Zangara was only 25 feet away, but his attempt failed because he shared the wobbly bench on which he stood with a woman who, as she strained to see, jostled the bench at just the right time to spoil his aim. The show’s version of history did not include the fortuitous jostle. Although the result of such a change might not have been the dystopia the show envisions, history would have been quite different had Roosevelt died that day.
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