Author Topic: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.  (Read 12421 times)

Offline Alan Georges

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Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« on: October 21, 2013, 05:40:45 AM »
A common question in the prepper community – and an ongoing Question For Jack, thread topic, etc. – is something along the lines of “when is this thing gonna pop?” or “so when do we break out the preps and show our families that we’re not crazy?”  Nobody’s got an answer to this, and anybody who claims to is probably selling something.  In this series of posts I’m going to take a sideways shot at an answer, but mostly kick off some talk about how to find an answer based on new data and events as they roll along, and maybe spur some people to post their own ideas on “when will the SHTF?”

Here’re a few recent topics/posts on the subject:
“Is it just me?”  http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=45198
“How close are we to SHTF?”  http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=24115.msg504667;topicseen#msg504667
“Something might happen this fall” http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=44188.msg504659;topicseen#msg504659
“What SHTF indicators are you watching?” http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=46038.0
So yeah, definitely a hot issue.  Maybe some will see this as a duplicate thread, but (a) I didn’t want to hijack those other threads, and (b) this is more about a way of predicting than the actual predictions, and things to watch for as precursors to the SHTF.  Though I’ll try to make a few predictions later on.

Here’s how I’m looking at it, through the lens of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point.”  Searching on this forum for the phrase “tipping point” pulls up three pages of thread links.  Maybe the best is the one to “A world of ‘tipping points’...cliche is harming our public discourse.”  http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=2837.msg27202#msg27202    What an over-used phrase!  Well, they’ve got a point.  Since that book came out and the phrase was popularized in the run-up to Second Gulf War, it’s been used to death.  Everybody wants to look smart, everybody wants to predict the future, it’s a nice catch phrase, and it sounded cool at the time.  I’m not going to go on about the popular notion of “tipping points” here though, I’m going to stick with the specifics Gladwell wrote in his book.

In Gladwell’s book, he spells out three key elements that have to click into place before a movement, trend, fad, revolution, etc. breaks out.  These are:
A sticky message.
A group of proponents.
A climate for change.

Here I want to pause and define the kind of SHTF I’m talking about predicting here.  It’s not natural disasters, or flu outbreaks, or anything that happens to us.  It’s what we do to ourselves, in break-out social, economic, or political crashes, the kind of stuff that triggers depressions, genocides, wars, etc.

OK, let’s look at each of these three components leading up to a tipping point now.  But I’m going to break them into the next few posts, hopefully to make the reading go easier, but maybe too to make the rebutting comments easier for folks to type.

(BTW, I’ve been working on this mega-post for a month or so, said “enough!” over the weekend, and am letting it fly now.)

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 05:41:16 AM »
A sticky message.  Whazzit?  It’s a simple, easily stated message that people can understand and buy into.  “Penny loafers are cool!  And reasonably priced!”  “Hemlines are going up this year!”  “The war’s not going well, the Americans have nuked us twice, and the Emperor says it’s OK to surrender.  That’s good enough for me!”

It helps to have at least a grain of truth to it, or at least a plausible smell.  But it doesn’t have to be true, not in the least.  How many tragic times in history have we seen “It’s all Ethnic Group XYZ’s fault, and now they’re gonna pay”?

In 2007 there was a whole book published on sticky messages, “Made to Stick, Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.”  It was specifically written as a companion work to Gladwell’s book.  From the table of contents, here are the main attributes of a good and sticky message, chapter by chapter:

Sticky = understandable, memorable, and effective in changing thought or behavior.  Six principles:
Simple
Unexpected (i.e., gimmicky)
Concrete
Credible
Emotional
Stories (that is, it tells a story)

Then there are a couple of chapters giving examples and advice on crafting a sticky message, or un-sticking a message you want flushed out of common discourse.

Not all of these features have to be present in the message, but the more the better.  In particular, “unexpected” is optional.  But if it is there, it does have a way of setting the hook (to borrow a fishing term) in people’s minds.

So what kind of sticky message are we looking around for to spring up?  Something along the lines of “The SHTF and now it’s every man for himself!” or perhaps something along the lines of “Fiat money is based on trust in the currency, and nobody much is believing in the dollar these days.”  I dunno.  My crystal ball’s in the TV shop this week, and none of those are all that concrete or credible anyway.  But that’s the idea of a sticky message.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 05:41:43 AM »
A group of proponents who are good with social connections.  Who are they?  Art critics.  Politicians.  Hipsters, maybe, a few years ago.  Political commentators.  You probably, and me when it comes to prepping.  Anybody who’s an early proponent of a new or unknown idea.  Anybody who picks up an idea and runs with it, then tells people they care for about this idea or fashion or lifestyle or whatever.  Pretty simple.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2013, 05:42:08 AM »
A climate for change.  OK, here’s where Gladwell gets a little fuzzy in his writing, but luckily there’s another author who picks up the slack.  In “The Change Function,” Pip Coburn talks a lot about the “total perceived pain of adoption” or TPPA.  Even though it’s about technology not social movements, the concepts still apply.  When the price of not changing moves noticeably past the TPPA, there’s a climate for change.  There’s got to be some crisis, some demand, and suddenly... there’s an answer, a solution, and if the price is right (counted not just in dollars, but in time, learning curve, anxiety, etc.), then there’s the pressure to change and change will happen.

As a side note, “The Change Function” was published in 2006, and the author does go on to pick some upcoming winning and losing technologies.  Now seven years later we can score his predictions.
Winners: Flat screen TV.  Mobile email.  Business intelligence software.  Sat radio.
Losers: RFID tags on everything.  Fiber com lines to houses.  The “converged” entertainment PC.  WiMax.
Knocking off a half-point each for the converged PC and WiMax (they’re both still around, sort of), the guy’s batting at least .875.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2013, 05:42:32 AM »
About the most overwhelming, horrifying example of sudden SHTF that comes to mind was the political change in Germany in the early 30’s.  The climate for change was there: economic desperation, crushing war reparations payments, overwhelming national debt, social disintegration.  The proponents were there: brownshirt Nazi fanatics, along with several other small activist political parties.  And the sticky messages were there, starting with and layered onto the “stab in the back” meme from the end of WWI (here’s the Wikipedia article on that one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stab_in_the_back).  If you want to review a history of the whole sickening mess, the BBC documented it in the mini-series “The Nazis: A Warning from History” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nazis:_A_Warning_from_History).  Netflx and Amazon both keep the disks.

Here’s the thing: after reading Gladwell’s book and understanding how movements break out, while watching the political disaster unfold in that documentary, it’s hard to see how the Nazis (or something about as bad) could have failed to come to power.  And even though hindsight is 20-20, watching the things going on in Germany in the 20’s and 30’s, the whole thing seems so predictable.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 05:42:59 AM »
OK, so that’s the mechanism by which Gladwell says these things happen, and there’s an over the top example of how it all works.  If it’s all so simple, then why is it so hard to predict the future and the next SHTF?  Well, let’s take some shots a the problem.

First off, do we really have a climate for SHTF-class social or economic change?  No, not yet.  Actually, not even by a long shot.  2008 looked pretty grim, but compared to the 1930’s it never really came close.  Sure, some people and some groups are pressed to the wall already, but by in large it’s an individual thing, not a “climate.”  But the heat was definitely there, and we all remember it.

Riding this 2008 minor heat wave was a candidate with a very simple, sticky message: Hope and Change.  He certainly had plenty of people pushing his message too, namely all of the legacy media.  Some people bought it at the time, some are still buying it.  Whatever, it was enough to get him elected and the re-elected.  A lot of people saw right through it though.  It’s a pretty thin message, and the climate really wasn’t there.

Let’s talk about a big change that’s been in the news lately, the sudden un-backing by The Left of Obama on the issue of bombing Syria.  The message is sticky and clear: “We didn’t back Bush’s wars, why should we back Obama’s?”  There are enough tattered remnants of the decade-old anti-war movement to get the word around.  And finally, the climate for change is excruciating: old leftists being out-peacenick’d by a bunch of conservatives and libertarians?  Who’da thunk?

But I don’t see how that leads to a real tipping point.  Maybe the idea that all mainstream politicians are lying filth is sinking in at an emotional level, now that a warhawk-crack has appeared in the president’s facade, but I don’t see that directly leading to a big social change.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 05:43:20 AM »
So what am I looking around for these days that could be “The Trigger”?  I’m keeping my ear to the ground for sticky messages, something “everybody knows is true.”  A couple of years ago I had a friend from the complete opposite end of the political spectrum (he’s sort of a communitarian, slightly authoritarian guy) said to me about the ongoing budget mess “Man, this budget and sequester nonsense just can’t keep going on like this.”  But that wasn’t really a call to action, or even a specific item.

Of course The Trigger could be a physical catastrophe, or at least based on a catastrophe.  If the New Madrid fault cracks loose in a big way, yeah, the immediate human cost and the short- to mid-term economic impact could be the kick-off.  I mean, refilling EBT cards may be a low priority if the Mississippi River starts flowing backwards again.  Things could snowball rapidly in a case like that.

Again, there’s a whole trigger-watching thread over at “What SHTF indicators are you watching?” http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=46038.0  I’m not seeing any sticky message coming together right at this moment, beyond perhaps a general sense of entitlement to government goodies (i.e., producers’ tax dollars!), but who knows what could be coming next.

OK, enough, I’ve got to get ready for work.

Offline NWBowhunter

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2013, 06:35:25 AM »
Plus 1 Great posts. We certainly have the zealous followers that carry the water for and fail to notice any fault with the current admin. I think the sticky message will arise out of the economics of the haves have nots. As the new suck on capital really gets going with the spiraling debt machine that is our federal government, we'll see the Tea party message turned on as the reason for the misery.  They (sticky message proponents) always need to point to an outside group, minority, to place the blame on and focus their message.

 

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2013, 05:41:01 AM »
Thanks NWB.  Yes, we are already seeing the legacy media push the idea that the recent government shutdown was all the Tea Party's fault.  It's a convenient scapegoat, and who knows how far it'll go?

I'm also watching for significant inflation to kick in.  It won't be the trigger, but it it will stir up a climate for change.  In a ripe enough climate, it doesn't take much of a message to stick.

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2013, 05:57:00 AM »
Fascinating Stuff

:popcorn:

Offline NWBowhunter

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2013, 07:02:22 AM »
I think we are seeing an increase in the speed of crises. They need the constant state of agitation to stop everyone from actually examining the situation. So the left gets more radical and the right is pushed to the tyrannical end of the spectrum.  Each side is looking for that sticky message that will break in their favor to give them the control and the power. That's why the their is no backbone in any message now. They take it up to the brink and back down when the polling tells them they are going to lose power.

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2013, 10:12:31 AM »
I guess I was a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell until I read Outliers and realized that he makes a lot of stuff up and uses theories as if they were fact even if they've already been scientifically refuted.  For Outliers it was one point that he was trying to make that was the "tipping point" for me.  His insistence that to be great in hockey you had to be born in January, February or March.  At the time I was a huge Avalanche fan and knew that less than 1/4 of the team was born in those three months.  I even went player by player and double checked.  Of the 2001 Stanley Cup Championship team, something like four players were born in the first three months.  But I digress.

Gladwell says things that people want to hear, like the "Broken Window Theory."   He plugs in simple solutions to explain complex problems and we listen because it is what we want to hear.  We want a universe that can be explained and that we can understand.  Personally, I'm a much bigger believer in Complexity Theory and how large amounts of energy in a system makes them respond in ways that we're not expecting.  It's less comforting, but appears to be more accurate.  Gladwell's explanations in Tipping Point makes it sound like there's some threshold will be passed, then change will occur.  The author's ability to move that set point in one direction or the other, in just how many people need to believe in something in order for it to gain traction is to vague.  It sounds neat, it gives us some faith that we don't have to convince everyone, just enough to reach some mystical threshold.

I just think that we're more likely to see major societal changes out of completely unpredictable events than rising to some critical mass.  Of course, sometimes there's large unpredictable events and very little societal change because the energy isn't in the system.  Sometimes a large event impacts one segment of society or region in the world, but has only small impacts on the rest of the world or only on some industries.

There's definitely similarities with tipping point, but I just think Gladwell overreaches with his books and they can only be taken so far.  While I've made it through Black Swan, it's an awful read.  If you really want to understand Chaos/Complexity theory, I found Jim Rickard's Currency Wars a much easier to understand explanation and a more interesting book overall.  Combine that with Laurence Gonzales' book Deep Survival to see how we misunderstand high energy systems and I started to get the whole picture and all the places the theory could apply.

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2013, 12:48:42 PM »
makes a lot of stuff up and uses theories as if they were fact

That covers just about every junk science program on cable doesn't it...

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2013, 07:14:53 PM »
I guess I was a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell until I read Outliers [...]
Yeah, that and Blink are pretty worthless.  I had big hopes starting to read that book, it started out like some jedi spidey-sense lesson, but it quickly fizzled out.  (Summary: "Trust your gut.  Here are a bunch of entertaining examples."  There, now you don't need to bother with buying or reading it.)  I'm pretty much done with his later works.  But still The Tipping Point, despite the over used and frankly non-descriptive name, has value for spelling out the three elements (message, proponents, climate) that often precede a major social change.  As I said on another thread, I'm casually watching in case inflation starts up, and I'm casually listening to see if any messages are starting to get sticky.

I'll look up Currency Wars & Deep Survival.  Thanks.

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2013, 08:25:19 PM »
 :popcorn:

Good discussion - I'm following it.

soupbone

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2013, 12:30:39 PM »
My only issue with this is that there are always these three things in play at any time.

It's already been said, but Gladwell definitely oversimplies complex issues and tries to attach meanings that the majority of his readers want to hear. (the hockey player example was a good one, as was the whole gun control/violent crime chapter)


It's easy to say, "any time there is a signifficant change, it has been predated by a sticky message, people who wanted change, and a climate that would support change"

You know what else is true? There have been tons of attempted movements that had all three of these things in spades and never worked out (for thousands of reasons).



It's like saying, "If you keep flipping a coin, eventually you will get heads 7 times in a row".

Yes, that is true...  but there are generally dozens or hundreds or thousands of times that you don't get heads 7 times in a row.

The conditions when flipping the coin are always the same, the outcome is the only thing that is different.

Trying to predict the unpredictable is futile. Chaos/complexity theory is generally the side I fall on in this debate.

Interesting topic/discussion though and I'll be following it.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2013, 05:50:36 PM »
You know what else is true? There have been tons of attempted movements that had all three of these things in spades and never worked out (for thousands of reasons).
Can you give some examples of this?  I can think of several cases where enormous legacy media pressure has managed to kill or at least smear a movement (Tea Party events in '09, for example), but these are more cases of push-back against an otherwise successful movement.  Some real examples where all three elements were there and there wasn't a crushing media counter-campaign would be interesting.

Quote
Trying to predict the unpredictable is futile.
But is the outbreak of mass movements really unpredictable?

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2013, 10:06:37 PM »
Interesting stuff.....

osubuckeye4

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2013, 01:59:03 PM »
Can you give some examples of this?

Global Warming would be one that jumps immediately to mind... EVERYONE was talking about global warming back in the early 1990s and there seemed to be a willing audience with many notable proponents.




Here's the problem though... any time I give you an example of a time where there was a message, proponents and a climate ready for it, you can either say:

1) Well, just because it hasn't happened yet... it doesn't mean it won't ever happen (think Occupy Wall Street or Global Warming)

2) Well, the message wasn't sticky enough, the proponents weren't vocal enough and not enough people got behind it.

3) All those thing were there, but the oppositon had more proponents and convinced enough people not to embrace the change.


That's the problem with Gladwell's theories. You can't really disprove them, but you can't really prove them either because he doesn't give concrete data. He says that you need a climate of change, but never gets any kinds of real percentages. Do we need 10% of the world on board, 51% of the population of a culture? Is it 95%? We don't know, we can only look at things in hindsight and then try to apply meaning to them... at this, Gladwell is awesome.


EDIT: I hope you don't think I'm trying to say you're wrong. You aren't wrong, all of those things do happen when major changes happen. It's just, all of those things happen all the time, and many times change doesn't occur. Messages are constantly thrown out into society, and certain factions of people always embrace those messages, and others oppose those messages. The world is ALWAYS ready for change, because things are constantly changing.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2013, 04:58:35 PM »
Real interesting, but there's a lot of pseudo science, and bias masquerading as science.
Human society is in constant flux, and is far from a controlled environment for experimentation.

Quote
It's like saying, "If you keep flipping a coin, eventually you will get heads 7 times in a row".

Yes, that is true...  but there are generally dozens or hundreds or thousands of times that you don't get heads 7 times in a row.

While I understand the above point, mathetically that's not accurate.  It's at mathetically possible to flip a coin inifite times and never get tails.

Have you ever been to a casino with rouelette tables and seen this displays?


That particular image is a bit of a fluke, but the idea normally is a customer sees a streak and is tempted to bet against it.  You can be sure that if displaying the recent outcomes benefitted the gamblers, the house WOULD NOT do it.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2013, 05:12:54 PM »
I just now saw this thread. +1

Cedar

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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2013, 07:27:55 PM »
Global Warming would be one that jumps immediately to mind... EVERYONE was talking about global warming back in the early 1990s and there seemed to be a willing audience with many notable proponents.
Well, global warming (or climate change, or whatever the legacy media's calling it this week) – if it is really happening at all – is a physical process.  All of this tipping point stuff relates more to social trends breaking out.

Quote
Here's the problem though... any time I give you an example of a time where there was a message, proponents and a climate ready for it, you can either say:
...
Hmmm, I assure you that I'm not here to provoke an unpleasant argument, and the moderators wouldn't put up with it for a minute if I did.  I'm just hard pressed to think of a break-out social trend or movement that didn't have these three elements clicking together.

Quote
That's the problem with Gladwell's theories. You can't really disprove them, but you can't really prove them either because he doesn't give concrete data. He says that you need a climate of change, but never gets any kinds of real percentages. Do we need 10% of the world on board, 51% of the population of a culture? Is it 95%? We don't know, we can only look at things in hindsight and then try to apply meaning to them... at this, Gladwell is awesome.
This social stuff isn't as cut-and-dry as the hard sciences, and there's not even a clear demarcation of "win" or "fail" for most of these cases.  I mean, for example, punk rock broke out 35 years ago and in some sense was a successful trend, but I doubt that more than tiny fraction of the general population ever sported a Mohawk.  In the case of something like a bank run, what fraction of the population would it take to break a local bank?  (absent the FDIC and similar safeguards, of course)  Probably a pretty small one, but if it's enough to empty the bank's cash, it's enough.

Quote
EDIT: I hope you don't think I'm trying to say you're wrong. You aren't wrong, all of those things do happen when major changes happen. It's just, all of those things happen all the time, and many times change doesn't occur. Messages are constantly thrown out into society, and certain factions of people always embrace those messages, and others oppose those messages. The world is ALWAYS ready for change, because things are constantly changing.
Never for a minute have I though you were arguing in any way but in a friendly, constructive manner here, and I hope my ramblings are taken the same way as well.  And like you, I think that there are messages constantly being promoted by noisy advocates.  It's just that there isn't usually a receptive climate for them, the "total perceived pain of adoption" is too high, and that is what keeps them bottled up.  Or sometimes it's a muddled message that doesn't quite stick.  It's like the three parts all have to line up for the movement to get a start.  And even then when a movement launches, it can sometimes be beaten back by a counter-movement.  I think that happens a lot in politics.

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2013, 08:01:19 AM »
While I understand the above point, mathetically that's not accurate.  It's at mathetically possible to flip a coin inifite times and never get tails.

I don't even know why I bother trying to use analogies, I always do a terrible job.  :(

You're definitely right in that I could flip a coin 500,000 times and it could land heads every single time. The prior flip has nothing to do with the current or next flip.

One could sit down with a (shuffled) standard deck of cards, draw the top two cards and get a blackjack hand. There's only about a 4.8% chance of that occurance happening, but it's possible. It's entirely possible that you could repeat the same process with a new deck, and you'd have the exact same percentage chance (4.8%), because the prior outcome has nothing to do with the current outcome (assuming the deck of cards is replenished and we're drawing from a new 52 card sample).

osubuckeye4

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2013, 08:19:21 AM »
It's like the three parts all have to line up for the movement to get a start.  And even then when a movement launches, it can sometimes be beaten back by a counter-movement.  I think that happens a lot in politics.

I don't mean to knitpick a few sentences and ignore everything else, I definitely read everything else and you made some great points.

The above two sentences do kind of fit into what I've been saying though... these three things are not a secret formula for knowing when change is going to occur. They are mearly an observational tool that can be used, in hindsight, to figure out why many major societal changes occured.

Even if all three criteria are abundant, they can be supressed/beaten back under the right circumstances, and many times are.



I really think that change is constant and there isn't really a formula for it. Sometimes it occurs organically in grassroots ways, sometimes it occurs in a corporate boardroom or on a Senate floor, sometimes it occurs due to natural disasters or other unforseen events.

One day, Japan is functioning normally... the next day, a tsunami hits and there's the Kukushima Daiichi disaster. The course of the entire country was changed overnight. There was no real message preceeding it, there were not a ton of proponents and the population wasn't really ready to change. They were forced to change due to circumstances.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #25 on: October 25, 2013, 04:44:06 PM »
One day, Japan is functioning normally... the next day, a tsunami hits and there's the Kukushima Daiichi disaster. The course of the entire country was changed overnight. There was no real message preceeding it, there were not a ton of proponents and the population wasn't really ready to change. They were forced to change due to circumstances.

Covered in the very first post in the thread:
Here I want to pause and define the kind of SHTF I’m talking about predicting here.  It’s not natural disasters, or flu outbreaks, or anything that happens to us.  It’s what we do to ourselves, in break-out social, economic, or political crashes, the kind of stuff that triggers depressions, genocides, wars, etc.

OK, I'm sorta done here.  Anybody else got any questions or comments?

endurance

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #26 on: October 25, 2013, 05:20:56 PM »
Covered in the very first post in the thread:
OK, I'm sorta done here.  Anybody else got any questions or comments?
I do kind of wonder if there's something to Strauss-Howe's Generational theory to help explain why sometimes a trend will gain a huge wave of momentum, while other times it seems like everything is in place, but nothing really happens.

It's all very fascinating stuff, but I also think it's easier to predict events in the rear view mirror.  We can all say that bad things are going to happen in the future and inevitably be right, but predicting the what and when is a lot trickier.  I think the example of Matthew Sheppard is a perfect example.  There had been hundreds of anti-gay hate crimes over the years and none led to the uprising and change in state laws regarding hate crimes in many states throughout the conservative west until that one particular murder.  Why?  There's a new book out now arguing that it wasn't even a hate motivated crime, but he just happened to be gay and beat up by a couple of bullies.  I don't know the facts, but the fact that it caused over a dozen states to either debate or actually follow through with creating new hate crimes legislation within 24 months is fascinating to me.

What makes the difference between the 1960s when we had rioting in the streets over the Vietnam war, poverty, the democratic national convention, etc., but today we have the NSA reading our e-mails and listening to our phone calls and nobody really does anything about it?  Whatever it is, the powers that be have dialed it in really well.  Maybe it's a blend of things, like eliminating the draft (thus not giving a bunch of 18-25 year olds something to get upset over), encouraging home ownership (since people will happily burn down section 8 housing, but not their "own" bank-owned home), like starting people into debt earlier in life, so they have more to lose, thus they won't walk out of their $9/ hour job to protest because they need to make their car payment.

Food for thought.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2013, 08:19:12 AM »
I do kind of wonder if there's something to Strauss-Howe's Generational theory to help explain why sometimes a trend will gain a huge wave of momentum, while other times it seems like everything is in place, but nothing really happens.
Yes, I think that this can be a significant part of a climate for change.  A "hero" generation will see things and react very differently than a "nomad" generation.  (BTW, for those who are scratching their heads about this discussion, here's the relevant wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fourth_Turning)

This whole three-part harmony (heh) usually is most evident in hindsight, things are always clearer that way.  "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future," but if a theory is at all useful it should have some predictive power.  There's a growing climate for change, as evidenced by the OWS and Tea Party movements, but there isn't quite a coherent sticky message guiding either group.  Or more like, we see many competing messages and counter-messages, and none have risen to the top of the heap.  In a way, I think that we just saw two examples of change going on, in the health care funding debates and revolving around gun control.  Both controversies have been going on for decades, but they've finally started forming into consensuses and laws in the last few years.

The topic of chaos theory has been raised a few times here too, and it is relevant.  I'm beginning to think that a sticky message serves as a strange attractor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory#Strange_attractors) in this way of looking at social change.  Let me put this in an example of facing an angry mob.  As such, this way of viewing things allows us to say "Uh-oh, angry mob!  Better get myself out of here!"  But it doesn't give any clues as to who in the mob is going to start throwing rocks first.  Still, identifying an angry mob correctly and knowing to beat feet is useful information, and probably enough to save your butt.

osubuckeye4

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #28 on: October 28, 2013, 08:06:55 AM »
Covered in the very first post in the thread:
OK, I'm sorta done here.  Anybody else got any questions or comments?

Okay fine, how about Columbine?

---

From Wikipedia:

The massacre sparked debate over gun control laws, the availability of firearms within the United States and gun violence involving youths. Much discussion also centered on the nature of high school cliques, subcultures and bullying, in addition to the influence of violent movies and video games in American society. The shooting resulted in an increased emphasis on school security, and a moral panic aimed at goth culture, social outcasts, gun culture, the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressants by teenagers, teenage Internet use[5] and violent video games.
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One day you go to bed and really no one (on the national stage) is really talking about bullying or violence in video games or goth culture.

I mean, sure, some people are... but some people are going to be talking about any given thing.

Next day Columbine massacre happens and within 15 years we have all kinds of anti-bullying movements. (very fast change)


Did anyone go to bed on April 19th, 1999 thinking this was going to be a tipping point?

No, it just happened and then people rallied around it.



And it's not as simple as gun-shooting = tons of change. On May 21st, 1998... not even a year prior to Columbine. There was another incident where a kid shot and killed both his parents, then drove to school and killed 2 additional students while wounding 25 more people.


So, why Columbine and not the Springfield, Oregon shootings?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kip_Kinkel

Why not the Westside Middle School Massacre on March 24, 1998?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westside_Middle_School_massacre

Why not much earlier than that, back in 1992 with the Lindherst high school shootings?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindhurst_High_School_shooting




A lot of it really is randomness. There's a ton of people who die on the West Side of Chicago every month... but if a cute girl gets caught in the crossfire in an affluent neighborhood... THEN it's an epidemic and the nation starts to get talking. It's not so much that there is a tipping point, it's that random events happen and the public clings to them for whatever reason.

It's not as simple as saying, "people are getting shot, things are going to change". Things might change, things might not change... things haven't really changed on the West Side of Chicago for 30 years.

Sure, you can say, "well, the message just isn't clear enough"... but how many documentaries have been made about that area? How many politicians and police chiefs have tried to clean things up? The effort has been there, it just hasn't happened. When it does happen (if it does), it's probably going to be a rather random event that sparks the change. And then I'm sure, when it does happen, someone is going to say, "if you look back... this was inevitable.".

Change is always inevitable... what is not predictable is when it is going to happen.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2013, 08:21:19 AM by osubuckeye4 »

endurance

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Re: Applying "The Tipping Point" book to the current situation.
« Reply #29 on: October 28, 2013, 03:49:37 PM »
I've also noticed another thing and that is that there's a distance to disaster impact difference.  I've noticed it twice in my life where how far you were from a disaster impacted how folks felt.  First was Columbine, which happened less than 10 miles from my home and while I was attending college with a lot of kids just a little bit older.  It was really a feeling a deep sadness initially, less anger and fear, whereas the further folks seemed to be away from it, the more anger and fear they tended to experience. 

The same thing happened on 9/11.  I was in DC for training for work and we could see smoke from the Pentagon from our hotel.  It was really a sense of awe.  I walked with a group of about 2,000 people from the Washington Monument to the back parking lot of the White House and we all started singing.  It ran from Lean On Me to the National Anthem for about 45 minutes before I slipped away and back to my hotel.  It's one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  Again, no anger, no fear, just awe at the power of the situation.  In the meantime, back in Denver my girlfriend at the time was freaking out in pure panic mode.  She was actually going to drive to DC to get me, while I had planned on flying home until I discovered they weren't going to open Reagan National for a month.  We eventually got a rental car and drove home. 

With the Aurora Theater Shooting it was in a part of town that I seldom go to.  It had a far smaller impact on me emotionally than the other two events, yet it was only about 40 miles away from my home.

So I don't know what makes some events sticky and the start of mass movements and others big events with little impact.  It's certainly a complicated issue that has a lot of contributing factors, like distance as just one.