Why is it the end ?

Sunday, 01 November, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Part one.

Take the 1966 student and wind the clock back another 20 years … it's 1946, which means Dr. Spock (Benjamin_Spock).

Before this parenting was learned mostly by being the recipient, or by close observation (of siblings, cousins, friends). If a new mommy needed something her resources went from the midwife to her own mommy and great aunt Nattie. There were no doubt almost as many parenting styles as families. The good ones produced viable offspring growing each generation, the not so good might fade away. Nature at its finest.

In steps the mighty book ( second only to the bible in # printed etc, 40 languages ) took over, now you can just look up all the rules and presto all kiddies raised the same : badly.

Part two.

The first round the guesses were wildly disparate, but as everyone got to see the other guesses, they converge remarkably.

Why did having the full information (all 12 people's individual guesses) seem to cause less convergence than having the mean of their guesses? It didn't, really; but also because the aggregate is only one number that you converge to; having 12 wildly disparate numbers to converge to is harder. But by the third round, it hardly mattered-- a systematic bias had been introduced into the crowd, which is ironic since it is systematic bias that the Wisdom Of Crowds is supposed to negate. Moo.

People following the herd would be boring but not disastrous, except for the other finding.

Since the guesses converge, since other people are converging with you and you can see that, the confidence in these guesses goes up: a false belief of collective accuracy with no increase in actual accuracy. "It's unanimous!" Yikes.

Also remember, these people weren't being given an expert's guess to converge to, just other (regular) people's. As the authors point out, they didn't even attempt to measure group leader effects, persuasion, talking heads on TV, or twitter.

This is not a trivial problem. It isn't just saying that the beliefs converge; it is saying that since the beliefs converge along with greater confidence in their "truthfulness", it becomes more difficult for any individual to not converge as well-- and feel confident about it.

If you do manage to run from the herd you have to climb a high wall. "Can so many people be so wrong, yet so close together in their guesses? So wrong, yet so confident? Is everyone insane?"

You can imagine the social implications of a highly energized crowd, or electorate, or laity, or polity, or tax base, all converging on a "truth" of which they are supremely confident by virtue of the fact that others believe the same (which is the result of similar convergence on their part.) This is probably supercharged when you have a charismatic figurehead leading convergence, and by "charismatic figurehead" I mean media; no one person came up with this, everyone just knows it's true.

Part three.

"Marching gets our message out." No it doesn't, it gets CNN's message out. "We don't watch CNN, we use the internet." Yet given the infinity of the internet you still surf the same 5 websites, looking for and finding exactly what you want, like a baby playing peekaboo in a mirror over and over and over and over and over and over and...


The reason "peaceful protests" don't work anymore is because now the protests are slower than the media coverage. When they threw the tea in Boston Harbor it was urgent, immediate, and by the time the press could interpret it it had already been digested by the public. But now even before the protest reaches critical mass the media, whose agents outnumber the protestors 100 to 1, has packaged and produced it, like a reality show, and by the time Naomi Klein got there I had already been told to expect someone like her. Do you see? She had already appeared before she got there. Yes, I can take pride in thinking for myself but if I'm going to be honest, all I'm doing is reacting to what I'm told.

While the problems following directly from 2 are often discussed, here and in #b-a, a discussion which could perhaps be summarized under the respectively symbolic toponyms (redditard ; tardpedia) and so forth ; while the general powerlessness and easily-defeated nature of this type of society was approached from multiple angles (1, 2, 3 etc), it is perhaps of some limited interest to understand how the ending works in practice.

Like so : "democratic"i societies converge principally on the grounds of having converged, irrespective of any actual considerations of anything. Their Schelling points are their Schelling points strictly because they appear to be their Schelling points, there's nothing else there. This effect is self-reinforcing, in the sense that it exhibits stronger in the offspring than in the parents, robust, in the sense that it can not be fixed by deliberate activity, and dangerous, in the sense that it is equally likely to benefit or hurt the group.

Once infected, life becomes a numbers gameii. As society lost the ability to adapt, it will sooner or later hit a string of snake eyes and that's that.

Anglohumanity - the first cancer to have been defeated by a virus.

  1. Which is to say : broken, in a certain way. []
  2. Which is why everything everyone seems to want to do anymore - from "the homeless" to "homeowners" to "bankers", going through "marrigeable young ladies" and "college bound young men" - is play some sort of lottery. []
Comments feed : RSS 2.0. Leave your own comment below, or send a trackback.

3 Responses

  1. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 10 August 2020

    What an epic fucking reread.

    Thank you MP for knowing everything long before, omfg, if I wasn't me I wish I were.

  1. [...] is a continuation of the earlier Why is it the end ? which you should probably read [...]

  2. [...] It had sold for 42 million before. It's a record in the sense of woe. [...]

Add your cents! »
    If this is your first comment, it will wait to be approved. This usually takes a few hours. Subsequent comments are not delayed.