from a study published in 2011 [pdf]:
“We show how the prevailing majority opinion in a population can be rapidly reversed by a small fraction p of randomly distributed *committed* agents who consistently proselytize the opposing opinion and are immune to influence. Specifically, we show that when the committed fraction grows beyond a critical value pc ≈ 10%, there is a dramatic decrease in the time, Tc, taken for the entire population to adopt the committed opinion.”
that in itself is interesting when thinking about how to spread the good news about human biodiversity, sociobiology, etc., etc. — apparently there needs to be a committed (no, not THAT sort of committed) ten percent of us if we’re to have any hope of the majority accepting the realities of hbd. of course, being ten percent doesn’t guarantee that the majority will run with the idea, just that that is A minimum requirement — if these researchers have got it right.
but that’s not what i want to look at right now. what i want to know is: how much longer? how much loooonger do we have to put up with political correctness?! or as jayman asked: “when does it all break?”
there was an interesting chart published online in connection with that 2011 paper showing the trajectory of the spread of a new idea once it starts to be accepted by the majority (again, once ten percent of the population had already accepted it AND were committed proselytizers):
to me, that graphic — the insert (the line graph) — looks like it’s just charting a mania — like a tulip mania or a dot.com bubble or a housing bubble. or the south sea company crash. first a gradual rise, then a sharp, parabolic takeoff — the mania — followed by a crash. well, the crash is not on the above chart, but see here [from the economist]:
this schematic chart graphs what happens in an economic mania, but what if this also happens with ideas, like — i think — the chart from the 2011 paper suggests? witch hunting came and went, for instance, and there was a definite mania phase there. let’s suppose political correctness is a mania. how far along on the chart are we?
it certainly feels like we’re in the mania phase. please tell me we’re not still in the take off phase! if we are, i’m turning off my internet and crawling under the bed…. it seems like every other day there is a new and even weirder pc episode out there — the appearance of “microaggressions” (if you don’t already know, don’t ask!), just a few days ago facebook adds 50+ genders to its website, yesterday a call to put an end to that very annoying thing called academic freedom. and, of course, the constant political correctness on the tv machine and in the media. i mean, how weirder can it get?! haven’t we reached the top of this mania phase YET?!
i checked out a couple of pc keywords on google ngrams — “racism,” “racist,” “feminism,” and “feminist” — just to see how hot they are. unfortunately, google ngrams cuts off in 2008, so we can’t see the trend up until today. (i searched for the four terms in american english. click on charts for LARGER views.):
there seems to have been a peak in the use (in books in american english) of all four terms in the mid-1990s, but who knows what’s happened since 2008. did they keep trending downwards? level off? increase again?
so i checked the same keywords on google trends — web searches for the u.s. only between 2004-present:
they all seem to be holding pretty steady, except for searches for “racist” which appear to have increased somewhat. i would’ve preferred to see all of these trending downwards…like off the scale.
dunno what any of this means. are we still in a pc mania phase with a trajectory pointing right towards the sky? — and is it all going to get even crazier? or have we already gone over the peak and are witnessing “denial” and maybe heading for a short “return to ‘normal’” peak? no idea.
i just hope it’s over soon. in my lifetime at least! although the problem is who knows what stupid idea the masses will latch onto next? maybe i should be careful what i wish for. the next mania could be even worse (although i have a hard time imagining that!).
oh, btw — i have this idea that human population manias (both economic and ideological ones — also fashion trends) are just examples of herding behavior, and that if someone mapped or charted or graphed these human herding behaviors, they’d look very much like the maps/charts/graphs of, say, the swimming patterns of shoals of fish or the migratory movements of wildebeest or the flights of flocks of seagulls. i’d love to see that done someday!
(note: comments do not require an email. tulips!)