The broad white-light continuum generated on the passage of ultrashort pulses of laser light through suitable media has found numerous applications in the physical, chemical, and biological sciences. Many of these are based on use of the continuum to probe the absorption characteristics of transient species, in order to obtain information on their decay kinetics. The processing of data from such experiments is generally based on the implicit assumption that the absorption of white light is subject to the normal Beer-Lambert law, in that the absorption at any particular frequency is linearly proportional to the intensity of the probe light at that frequency. In this paper it is shown that the validity of this underlying assumption should be seriously questioned. At high intensities, the uncertainty principle allows for photon pairs with differing frequencies to provide the energy for the cooperative excitation of molecules in close proximity. This nonlinear absorption, which depends on the frequency autocorrelation function and intensity of the continuum light, results in a rate of absorption which may depart significantly from the normal Beer-Lambert behavior. Hence the interpretation of continuum-probe experiments may need to be reexamined.