how much longer?

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):

the ten percent

to me, that graphic — the insert (the line graph) — looks like it’s just charting a mania — like a tulip mania or a 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 dunno.

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.):

google ngram - racism etc.

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:

google trends - racism etc.

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!)


  1. Indeed, “when does it all break?”

    And any “break” can certainly (hopefully) be for the better. Or not.

    Let’s not forget that the Islamic world from 800 – 1100 AD was the world’s center of intellectual thought, likely sparking Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment movements. And we know did that turn out.

    So, yes, let’s not underestimate the power of a few “committed” agents…good or bad.


  2. “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!).”

    Years ago, Nickrit, a brilliant HBD commenter, and I pondered this issue. We wondered what form marxism 3.0 would take. Sometime later I came across the no border crowd.


  3. Assuming the mania phase was initially sparked by WWII then peaking 50 years later in the mid 90s when kids who grew up around WWII were at the peak of their careers might make sense. Although we may be in PC 2.0 now though so transgender and white privilege may be the new keywords.


  4. I believe in a fallen humanity, so I don’t expect that truth will eventually prevail. I believe it sometimes does, and it is our job to stay at our post regardless. This is related to what I believe about marriage and parenting and honesty and generosity as well. We say things because they are true, not because we are going to win or whether we have a large audience.

    Notice that one of the requirements is “immune to influence.” I am interpreting that as meaning “fanatic.” HBD might appeal to people for all sorts of ill motives, but I’m not seeing that fanatics are going to hang around long. Contrarians, yes. But there is too much give-and-take even in this small population for a militant.


  5. I think AVI is right. Large numbers of people (if you looked worldwide) are still denying evolution itself.

    Then there are “conspiracy theorists.” I’ve tried arguing online with these people and it’s impossible. I ignore them now.

    HBD pushes against one of ideas most dear to today’s elites: that there cannot be differences in abilities, personalities, etc due to ethnicity, gender, and so on. There is an entire industry devoted to promoting “diversity”, even if it means setting quotas.


  6. I’d say PC was in the ‘Greed’ phase, so yes it will get worse before it gets better. The ‘take off’ started around 1989-1990; reading a book of cultural Marxist essays from ca 1986 a few years ago, it was notable that the academics were writing in a world where their views were not yet fully hegemonic, and I remember the initial media attention to PC around 1989.
    My gut feeling is that PC is likely to still be hegemonic in 2020, but probably not in 2050. Hopefully that will be well within your lifetime. :)


  7. “Great minds think alike”

    Now the population numbers are shifting towards minority status the meme is shifting to being much more explicitly and specifically anti-white.


  8. You cite these time series values as if they are independent of the validity of the underlying concept. The reason that the Tulip Craze was remarkable was that it was empty. One day the Dutch realized that they were just flowers and the bottom dropped out.

    I’m not so sure that the concepts of feminism or racism will suddenly crash in the same way.

    Racism as an all purpose explanation for a wide variety of social phenomena seems pretty robust. The existential reality for black people in America is that they are members of an inferior race.

    Race realists don’t like to use the term ‘inferior’ but black people feel the full weight of that term every day. It is so unpleasant to think of yourself as inferior that they have concocted this preposterous fiction that bad behavior by blacks is caused by the mental attitudes of white people – some kind of invisible rays that emanate from the foreheads of whites. It’s crazy of course but it is also very appealing rather like the promise of life after death.

    The idea of heaven never crashed and I doubt if the idea of white racism will either.


  9. Certain aspects of PC break occasionally. The Blank Slate is a good example. Communism is another. I don’t think we’ll ever solve the whole problem and break through into a brave new world of Enlightenment, though. The obscurantists have ye always with you. It’s a problem we’ll always have to fight, in one guise or another.

    Just be glad that no great new secular religion is available, or even on the horizon, to replace Communism. The PC crowd would flock to it. Then they might become really dangerous, just as the Communists were in their day. Now the only game in town as far as messianic world religions go is an old-fashioned spiritual one – Islam. The PC crowd is fascinated by it, because it would be a great vehicle for them to start saving the world again, but just can’t bring themselves to do the complete ideological 180 it would entail. So far, they’ve limited themselves to bashing Israel, but have to limit even that when their anti-Semitism becomes too obvious. Of course, the attraction is mutual. The radical Islamists have an amusing tendency to adopt the worn out ideological jargon of the PC left.


  10. Unfortunately, some of the newer PC terms are rising (particularly “transgender”) as you can see here:

    Transgender is increasing incredibly fast, and white privilege, transphobia, and Islamophobia are all increasing as well. Interestingly, heterosexism is going down.

    And I put political correctness in there because I was curious to see whether it’s use would be increasing as the PC culture becomes more and more pervasive, but that is not the case. It is actually decreasing, possibly because PC-types hate the fact that it exists.

    I really hope this doesn’t mean we’re in for another 50 years of PC, but it looks like it’s not going away just yet. We’ll probably see a lot more madness before it dies down, especially “transgender” madness.


  11. Patrick, as I understand it ll the bottom was not allowed to drop even when the tulips lost all their market value, because the society was run by people who had an interest in the money invested in tulips not disappearing in a systemic crash. So contracts to buy at future dates were enforced by law, but on reduced terms.

    If it happens the intellectual class are going to make it a very slow process of retrenchment. No way is there going to be a perceptible discrediting of the whole system.


  12. […] Rapid change can result when an idea receives widespread appeal among the people. Both components of this – the origin of the idea itself (a reflection of the heritable temperament of its progenitors) – and its reception among the masses (a reflection of the heritable temperament of adherents) are influenced by genes. In a way then, social revolutions can reflect pent-up genetic “potential” in a population, which may express itself when enough people accept that the idea is “OK” and hence can successfully overturn the established order. This is the essence of HBD Chick’s ideas, and Staffan’s remark on needing to “account” for the “history of communism” when looking at the current state of Eastern European societies (“We can’t adjust for their entire history”). The sexual revolution wasn’t the only revolution of consequence in relatively recent history. The American Revolution itself, the Protestant Reformation, the abolition of slavery in the U.S., the rise of communism in Russia, etc are as well. Historical revolutions are in essence, in many respects, a “changing of the genetic guard”, where the genetic dam “bursts” so to speak. More loosely attached individuals may convert if the idea attains a critical mass (see how much longer? | hbd* chick). […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s