Fuck, you’re right, cicadas exist. That’s a legit cycle. Exception that proves the rule, I think.

That being said, business cycles are another great example of a not-a-cycle. It’s not that the cycle has to be exact; I think I gave that impression from oversimplifying the actual statistical model I have in my head of a k-period ARFIMA-like model, which is what I’m used to using for modeling time series. But there have to be real mechanics that pull a time series towards “Overshooting” its target for me to consider it a cycle. A business “cycle” doesn’t count, and in fact intro to macro courses regularly point out that the phrase “Business cycle” is a misnomer caused by exactly this illusion—it was the central example I had in mind of cycle pareidolia! Seeing several consecutive periods of above-average growth mean that the probability of a recession is *lower*, not higher. There’s no point at which, having seen n periods of above-trend GDP, you would conclude that the next-period’s GDP will probably be below-trend.

If you send me the Google trends data for a couple dozen random trends, I can test it! I’m too busy to sort through the data, but it’s a simple enough statistical model.

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One thing I guess I would add is that while pointing out reasons 'why this model is wrong' isn't all that difficult (I'm sure our host could have done this on his own, and probably did before posting) , I still think it's a useful way to think about any number of subcultures with a strong intellectual underpinning.

And that said, I still think operations like the LDS are an interesting counterexample , and I think more movements could and should learn from them (and no, I am not a Mormon). If in 150 years you go from screwing around in a wasteland like Utah to building a billion dollar empire, while finding a way to sell a story about Jesus landing in the New World to a bunch of people in Europe (and getting said Europeans to ship cash to SLC in the bargain), then your model a) definitely scales, and b) is probably worth exploring by any would-be activist.

I brought this up to a buddy of mine a while ago, who's a jack Mormon, and he pointed out that one of the things that make the Mormons so successful is that they actual do tangible shit for the people they're trying to win over. Unlike most 'movements' they don't just call you stupid if you don't sign on; they come to your neighborhood and drill wells and build houses in an attempt you win you over. That part of the sales pitch might not scale, but more movements should try to offer actual real-world benefits to the people they want to win over instead of just calling you shit-eyes if you don't sign on the bottom line.

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> I guess I should have been more respectful to David Chapman’s model, because the most common criticism in the comments was “actually I think it’s more of [reinvents David Chapman’s model]. Fine. Good work David.

Loyalists aren't sociopaths. Loyalists are distinguished from sociopaths in that they truly believe in the movement and will make significant sacrifices towards the status quo. A key difference is when the status quo or consensus changes, when a heresiarch succeeds. A sociopath switches colors because it's now high status to believe something else. A Loyalist will either need to be convinced or will become a reactionary, supporting the old status quo against the new and becoming a subspecies of heresiarch.

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The main difference between this and Chapman's model is that this is better and doesn't have weird personality archetypes that you kind of have to use lots of creative reasoning to ram a resolutely-resistant reality into.

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“Or maybe Kaj is talking about going from neutral status to high status (where you start to feel like a special bigshot) and I am including going from negative status to neutral status (where you start to feel accepted and part of the group).”

The word “status” seems like a weird fit to what’s going on here. The concept of measuring nonmembership < membership < bigshotness on on a single scale makes a certain kind of sense, but I don’t think that, for example, from the point of view of Boy Scouts, all nonmembers are in some sense “low-status.”

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I'm definitely on Kaj Sotala's side of the last argument. Status is a relative term that implies zero sum kind of economies. Anyone who "gains status" is a threat to anyone who is already "high status." Status is just a very competitive idea. The perks Kaj talks about- "a sense of belonging, being seen and appreciated" is not at all equivalent with "going from negative status to neutral status." Humans are social creatures, and not all this sociability is a zero sum game. We can actually all lose. In fact, we seem to be quickly moving towards a world where people feel like they are are all "losing" socially very, very fast, and it's a very scary development. Saying "having your social needs met" is the same as "having higher status" seems like a very abnormal use of the term "status."

However, I'll add to all these critiques that- even though I'm kind of repulsed by the model where all humans are these status maximizing demons who will use any charity or political organization to stroke their own egos- it actually is a useful model for me to assess my own impure motives. Reading that original article helped me realize that a lot of my instinctive desires to "make the world a better place" were actually more or less desires for "status." Or at least "special significance on the global stage." Which is a good thing to understand about myself/ my motives. So yeah, thanks for that.

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"Calendar" cycle is a cycle that repeats on some multiple of week/month/year cycle. Thus, cicadas are in a calendar cycle, and so are many processes where a simple repeating loop is superimposed on a weekly or annual schedule (say, market volatility around quarterly earnings releases). But the absebse of non calendar multiple loops is still a non trivial claim.

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Having watched psychedelics go from subculture to effectively mainstream I've been wondering what happens when the consumerisation forces of the free market root out every niche, selling all possible subcultures back to us as soon as we can develop them, and the low barrier of entry to previously hard-to-enter subcultures that social media brings makes each burgeoning subculture evolve and dissipate quickly with few long term committers.

Doesn't this "mainstream" everything? And if (let's say national) cultures become more mainstreamed, and we run out of taboo, there is no rebellion, your parents are likely still cool af, giving you the only options of being cool af or uncool af, there is no tangible oppressor to position yourself against, the romantic struggle against the other that many cling to for meaning disappears, and therefore we become less differentiated, less individuated (in spite of the individuation force of the free market consumerisation), we all did or are doing the trips and all have tattoo sleeves and tidy beards, the snap-on cultural accessories we pick up and drop become more and more meaningless, the infinite choices we have collapse into our preferences, shaped crudely by our underlying rudimentary culture, we become less concerned about what is happening outside our cultural borders and we gather again around the local maypoles that unites us, we become more culturally unified and nationalistic, we become more tribal within our national boundaries, or other more local boundaries, we are all eventually reading from the same parochial page.

I think this is evident in the recent rise of populism (check ngram for populism to get a feel for that), which leads me to thinking about the tension between the global market economy and it's infinite choice element, and the simultaneous rise of nationalistic politics in the West, effectively revealing our parochial preferences.

What happens to this dynamic when we all become mainstream, when all dogs are having their day together at all times? Do we need to reconfigure connotations to see that the popular mainstream is the big tribe, and that that is where we are all heading with this niche-eliminating system?

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First they ignore you.

Then they laugh at you.

Then they fight you.

Then you win.

Then you get taken over by sociopaths.

Then you hate yourself.

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I keep trying to relate this to the rock-climbing subculture, but it doesn't quite fit. The climbing subculture is old - people have been climbing rocks for food since antiquity, and for fun since the 1700s. The modern subculture recognisably existed in the 1940s (check out Lionel Terray's description of Louis Lachenal in _Conquerors of the Useless_ - every inch the modern dirtbag climber), and took off in the 1960s in places like Yosemite Valley and the English Peak District. The bar for "new and cool" is extremely hard to meet now - think _Free Solo_. I did some first ascents in Central Asia a few years ago, and it was enough to impress my friends but no more than that (at least, those of my friends who hadn't already done something similar...). And yet the climbing subculture is still growing, and though I've met the odd elitist asshole I think it's still pretty friendly? Climbers at all levels seem to be encouraging of each other, modulo some friendly rivalry. I think climbing has some structural advantages here:

- Though fashions about what is impressive (or "ethical") change, there really is a core physical skill that can be assessed. If you climb hard then you'll garner respect, and training advice is now readily accessible.

- It's a social activity, but not one that's done in organised teams. If you're an asshole then fewer people will want to climb with you, which means you're faced with a choice between soloing (much more dangerous) or not climbing at all.

- People can and do get killed pushing their limits, which puts a natural brake on most climbers' ambitions: hitting a grade ceiling and then climbing at that level forever isn't something to be particularly ashamed of.

- Though you can win status in the subculture by climbing, it's (currently) very hard to make money doing it. The stereotype of the expert climber living in a van exists for a reason. We'll see if this changes as the sport becomes more prominent, I guess.

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Are business cycles really "especially well-established"? It very hard to point to any exact economic trends that are clearly cyclical, even by fairly loose definitions of "cycle".

Even if some trends were predictably cyclical surely the anti-inductive nature of the market would smooth them out anyway, traders would short the peaks and take options on the dips.

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>Just because disco was cool in the 70s and uncool in the 80s doesn’t imply it will be cool in the 90s, uncool in the 00s, and so on forever. It will probably just stay uncool.

One of the great ongoing mysteries in life for me..."*Why* did disco become uncool?" The fashion was wacky and the culture was very of-the-times, but the music itself...man. Ain't nothing comparable in modern oeuvres. Still very popular across age groups when I throw it on in public. You say it begat dance music; I claim dance music is but a pale soulless shadow of the original. EDM at least leans hard into this artificiality, going for primal energy in the most raw fashion possible.

I'm sure it'll have a proper rediscovery at some point though. Fashion can't be the only aesthetic with a barberpole model. (Where do barberpoles fit into the cyclic theory of subcultures?)

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Re the Intellectual Dark Web, I think it's an interesting example of the cycle being disrupted. A lot of its ideas and members were artificially brought to greater prominence by the rise of the broader alt right and the Trump administration in particular (remember all the think pieces in 2016/2017 talking about Steve Bannon's intellectual justifications). But it wasn't an organic outgrowth of their populaire and they hadn't built an underlying community of supporters. So they were absorbed into the broader tight or just entirely fell apart

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(The word "cycle" seems like a red herring. Let's look at the model as a description of "stages".)

If I compare Chapman's and Scott's models, they both describe how a success of a community carries the seeds of its later fall (in quality, at least). But there is a subtle difference in *timing*, if I understand both theories correctly.

In Chapman's model, the community is ruined for its more idealistic members when it grows large enough so that the "sociopaths" notice it as a potential source of resources to be exploited. The fact that the "sociopaths" joined the community, and started shaping it in their own image, is the bad thing.

In Scott's model, the growth phase is actually okay, and the bad thing only happens when the growth inevitably slows down or stops entirely. The source of problem is not the abundance of resources, but rather their subsequent relative lack, especially of status (which is zero-sum, so it can only grow when the community grows in size).

These two models make two different assumptions about human nature. In Chapman's model, some people are intrinsically good, some people are intrinsically bad, and it is a tragedy for the former to be noticed by the latter. (Not just noticed as in "they exist", but noticed as in "actually, it would be profitable to exploit them". Noticed as a potential food.) In Scott's model, it is the circumstances that trigger our evolved instincts; it is the same kind of people who would cooperate in one situation, but turn against each other in a different situation.

So, uhm, two contradictory falsifiable predictions? Imagine a movement that stays niche for 10 years, then experiences 10 years of constant-rate growth, followed by 10 years of stagnation. Keep measuring how happy the original members feel. Will their reported happiness drop during the phase of growth, or during the phase of stagnation?

Methodological remarks: It would be better to measure the happiness of the old members in real time, to prevent them from editing their opinions in retrospective. ("Currently I have a conflict with X, therefore the things started going downhill 10 years ago when X joined us." Except, the conflict only started recently; previously they were both happy ignoring each other.) Also, get the responses from the average old members, not just the old elites. (The old elites may have been involved in zero-sum status fights already when the community was tiny.) As a control group, measure the happiness in a movement that remained niche for 30 years. (To control for "spending 30 years in the same bubble makes you a bit crazy and obsessed.")

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> This is a pretty pessimistic social moment (eg the thing where dystopian SF has become more popular than the utopian SF of the late 20th century).

I hope this trend jumps the shark as well, I'm so tired of this attitude. You have to be out of your mind to be a doomer in 2022, yet people mostly are.

As you said, "2100 is not a real year".

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Status -> social credit

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Seems like a pretty clear argument against the “people don’t do things explicitly for status” (and more generally for this theory in general) is startups.

It’s generally been my experience and the experience of my social groups that:

- small startups (<50 or so people) are true believers: they believe in the mission, are spending large amounts of time building, and are interested by the idea of a large payout or fame potentially but mostly love the idea

- growth phase startups (100-250 people) have “large company” employees join to set up the scale. By this point, it’s more likely the startup will succeed, and these people are less interested in the mission and more so in large payouts and acquiring power at a smaller startup. This is when politics usually begin: people fighting for “territory” and “owning” things rather than wanting to build the coolest product. At this point, many of the early employees will leave and feel pushed out

- large company (>250). At this point, there is significantly less building - partly because it’s harder to coordinate and there’s more at stake, but also because it’s now full of people fighting for just power

In my expericne, the people at each are quite self aware as well. In other words, the people who join at growth phase startups will explicitly tell you they’re interested in joining a growing company and taking on a larger team than they had at the large company - explicitly signaling they want status. And large company employees will say they enjoy the perks of the large company (the status of working for a brand name). I think this directly shows sometimes people are explicitly going for “status points”, making decisions about it, and willing to talk about it

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"I guess Kaj is using status in a strict sense and I am using it in a loose sense. [...]

Normally in a situation like this I would use a different word, but I don't know if there's a good snappy replacement. Accepting suggestions!"

Dominance status and prestige status. These two kinds of social status are totally different, especially under the surface. Kaj Sotala distinguishes "sense of belonging, being seen and appreciated" from status, "since it doesn't require you to be above anyone else": so apparently, unlike you, when he thinks "status" he means "dominance status" mainly, and hence the confusion.

Now, when Kevin Simler wrote his "Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole" in 2015, where he lays out the two-kinds-of-status view, you answered with "Contra Simler on Prestige" --- but also acknowledged at the end that "separating dominance from prestige is a good start".

Simler answered your objections here:


(And as it happens, for what it's worth, I published something on two-kinds-of-status myself just a couple of days ago. But it isn't about subcultures and instead begins with your review of The Gervais Principle a while ago --- I'm very slow.)

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Alternative word for status: “respect.” People will deny wanting status, but everyone admits wanting respect. Also, while we’re thinking about semantics, I think the pattern Scott is describing is less cyclical than it is fractal: hooks and spirals that spin off into similar-looking hooks and spirals, ad infinitum.

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How about Progress Studies as a movement in its happy growth spurt phase?

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Wouldn’t clocks in general count as cycles? And therefore anything that derives from them? This encapsulates cicadas, earnings season in the stock market, etc.

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I don't know if I identify with or just want to identify with having people "who often take a strong dislike to me because, for as long as I can hold out, I will try to flatten the status levels which cuts into their prestige." But I love Laura Creighton's comment so much I wish she could be ruler of the world, at least until that stops being cool.

Is there a non-socialist political movement loosely based around this idea? Asking for a friend.

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How much of the recent EA spotlight is just William MacAskill's book publicist being very good at their job?

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Aug 19, 2022·edited Aug 19, 2022

"The atheist movement begets the feminist movement begets the anti-racist movement begets and so on." Slightly snorted out loud after looking at the past article. Good to know the world started around 2004.

Should maybe we explore Vico?

Burnham. 1970. Critical elections and the mainsprings of American politics?

Floyd's cycle-finding algorithm (see Knuth, Donald E. (1969), The Art of Computer Programming, vol. II p. 7, exercises 6 and 7) as well as other cycle-detection methods.

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Aug 19, 2022·edited Aug 19, 2022

The "status" abstraction does cover things like "my contributions are appreciated”, “people respond to my comments", etc... but it doesn't cover things like "actually caring about the thing the movement is trying to accomplish".

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I wanted to make a couple of stray comments of little significance.

>The atheist movement begets the feminist movement begets the anti-racist movement begets and so on.

I find it really off-putting (though I should be used to it, as Scott has been consistent on this over the past decade) the way Scott uses "feminism" and "the feminist" movement to refer to the particular popular flavor of it that emerged in certain parts of the internet 10-12 years ago, as if there were no feminist movement prior to the 2010's; feminism didn't first become a thing at that time. I wish he would refer to it as "SJ-ish online feminist movement (what we would now call woke feminism)" or something. I also feel that the claim of this strain of feminism emerging directly from New Atheism requires some unpacking and examination although it's arguable correct from some angle.

>Imagine if the word “money” had a connotation of “thing you use to buy luxury goods so that poor people are jealous of you”. Then people would tell economists “You’re so cynical in thinking that labor markets are about money - a lot of people just want to pay their monthly rent and provide food for their families”.

I don't really have a point to make in bringing this up, but it so happens that I ran across <a href="https://www.facebook.com/nomoremoney/photos/a.261799670651242/2267316716766184/?type=3&p=30&_rdr">this meme</a> on Facebook and the above excerpt reminds me of it.

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There is an alternative for a movement: it can win, become status-quo, and completely dissolve into society.

For example: washing hands, abolition of Slavery, division of Sudan

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> Normally in a situation like this I would use a different word, but I don’t know if there’s a good snappy replacement. Accepting suggestions!

Any replacement would soon suffer from the exact same problem. Don't get on the euphemistic treadmill.

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This looser definition of status seems to contradict the earlier description of the involution phase as where infighting and fragmentation and mutual excommunication happens.

With the looser definition of status, I would expect the involution phase to be when the subculture stops being welcoming to newcomers, since noobs can no longer contribute anything new without acclimatization and/or specialized training.

The zero-sum model involving sociopaths predicts that the subculture would fade away as the excitement ends and the infighting kills the fun, while the loose-definition-of-status model predicts that the subculture would slowly fade away as the founders and the first few generations fail to replace themselves, plus a bit of evaporative cooling as the required commitment/knowledge to be "in" grows over time.

Maybe both effects occur in different amounts in the involution phase, depending on what type of subculture we are talking about?

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Can anyone make explicit predictions about what will happen to a subculture and/or political movement based on its focus, internal laws, cultural norms, etc.?

Ie, maybe splitting should be encouraged to remove internal friction, such as the pre-existing differences described in https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/04/04/the-ideology-is-not-the-movement/, or maybe splitting should be discouraged to preserve the raw numbers of the group?

Even if all subcultures must reach involution because none can keep growing forever, there is a big difference between

a). took over the country, converted 99% of the population, passed every policy reform on the wishlist, became a beloved national tradition that continues to this day


b). failed to achieve anything, torn apart from the inside with infighting, ridiculed/hated/ignored by most of the population, remembered only as a passing fad

It would be very helpful for the founders of a new subculture/movement to know what made things like Christianity, soccer, and the civil rights movement succeed while Gnosticism, pet rocks, and Defund the Police failed.

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Aug 19, 2022·edited Aug 19, 2022

People's brains are wired to see patterns in things.

Before anyone claims that anything is a "cycle" that is not really blatant (planetary movements, cicadas), I'd want a statistical analysis which can distinguish between cycles and random variation that someone saw a pattern in. And even then, it's easy to P-hack by looking at a hundrfed examples of different things until you find one containing a "cycle", so I'd expect to see a lot better confidence than 95%.

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I'm curious if you've looked into Everett Rogers' work on the diffusion of innovations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations) as there seems to be overlap.

In the late 90's/early 00's this gained new visibility (to the public at least? I assume marketeers had continued to refine DoI since it came up in the 60's) due to the rise of "coolhunting" firms. There were books (https://www.amazon.com/Coolhunting-Chasing-Down-Next-Thing/dp/0814473865/) and PBS shows (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/). Nothing like when TRL, Myspace and Insane Clown Posse were the bleeding edge of culture...

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One possible driver of subculture ‘lifecycles’ is that it takes much longer to prospect, mine, and refine a collection of good ideas than it does to share them. Open questions drive good answers, but usually not to interviews until you have those answers.

If an author spends a decade coming up with a great first book, and then the publishing company expects them to have another ready in a year or two, while doing a press tour, well duh the odds aren’t great. Even though they were the rare person who wrote a great first book!

If you then select retrospectively the successive winners, then like magic you can cherry-pick your way to ‘cyclic’ anything.

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>>>"Just because disco was cool in the 70s and uncool in the 80s doesn’t imply it will be cool in the 90s, uncool in the 00s, and so on forever. It will probably just stay uncool."

I bring to you capris / culottes/pedal pushers.

Or whatever they're called this year.

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I think at the end there you just gave a good replacement word. For going from neutral to high you can use "advancement" and for going from negative to neutral you can use "acceptance". So in FTT's scenario, not responding would mean they had achieved the level of acceptance they wanted, while responding would mean they wanted more advancement. In Kaj's situation, their involvement declined once they achieved acceptance, and didn't feel the need to advance, but that doesn't mean that other people couldn't have continued on mining for more advancement within the movement.

Or, if you want something shorter and pithier, how about "survival" and "thrival"?

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Another example: This theory reminds me a lot of my experience in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom (aka "bronies"). In the early days, it was exhilarating and felt like being part of a rapidly growing but still secret club, unrecognized and un-understood by the mainstream, and it was small enough that doing practically anything could plausibly get you featured on the frontpage of Equestria Daily.

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I may be getting too esoteric here, but... everything that we call a thing is by nature cyclical. We detect entities by determining their boundaries against some ground, or backdrop. If some existing state changes, and never changes back, everything that depends on it causally just tracks that change, and there's very little difference from ground to observe. An entity just changing in one direction, then never ever reverting, is even almost impossible to talk about. It's just ... time passing, like usual.

When an entity changes and then changes back, then it's a bit more noticeable, because then there's a genuine boundary against ground reality to be seen. But if an entity changed, and then changed back, and never became cyclical by repeating, we wouldn't call it a thing. Even if you did, nobody would believe you; it'd be divorced from natural law, like a ghost, a miracle or an alien abduction. We need it to happen _again_ before we can handle it epistemologically.

A chair gets to be a thing because I can change my state relative to it by sitting in it; then I can change it back again by getting up. And then I can repeat this as many times as I want. My seatedness is a reliable square wave; if it's 1, then it's going to be 0 next. If it's 0, then it's going to be 1 next. Imagine if you sat in a chair, and then got up again, and then the chair vanished. That chair was not cyclical; also, probably, it was imaginary. Imagine if you sat down in a chair and never got up again, ever, even after death, never for any reason. That chair was not cyclical either; but also, it is probably a symbolic or metaphysical chair we're talking about, rather than a real thing.

Anyway, when you argue about whether something is cyclical, you're arguing about ontology; and until you get your ontology settled, you're going to chase your tail around and around forever.

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people seem to generally think of "status" as something involving ranking, and if you're talking about the same thing as kaj--which explicitly does *not* involve ranking--then it sounds like status isnt a good word to use; "belonging" fits a lot better. not clear to me that this is the case though.

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Not clear that Planned Parenthood is (anymore) an organization whose strong board protects them from these self-destructive patterns:


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Aug 20, 2022·edited Aug 20, 2022

Raises hand: I just found an example, a religious movement I'd never heard of, John Thomas's Christadelphians.

They weren't going to be another sect. No sectarianism here!

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I like the clarity of some of your descriptions, but I disagree these are obvious phases, unless indeed you restrict them to political or politics-adjacent stuff (but even there I'd be concerned I'm observing those as a caricature of themselves).

Is Google in a Growth phase (any Noogler can gain status freely - not the 'superstar' level status, that does take work, but a very comfortable level of status) or a Postcycle phase (because *formal* status gains go through rigid processes)? I think the way to resolve the ambiguity is to realise that there are lots of groups of things you can join that have a fractal specialisation status behaviour, where you can effectively fit an infinite number of people into the group who all specialise and become respect for their specialisation. But those don't fit this phase model properly at all; you can squint at it and try to hammer it in there, but I suspect it won't really tell you many interesting things about what it's like to join that group or how the group is viewed from the outside.

As an example, I am the documentation specialist in my team, there's a Product X specialist in our team and a Product Y specialist, but there's also a person in my team who thrives off of being the almost-trollish subversive idea generator (sometimes those ideas are rubbish but we're super glad they're there to generate them!), and a person whose social status is basically 'did something break and you're not sure how to fix it? This person knows a ton of nerdy details of the Google infrastructure and loves to help'. I suck at all the non-Documentation things, but I feel like my team really, really wouldn't want to lose me.

(I do appreciate some of the comments here that differentiate between different kinds of status, but I believe most people are concerned with the kind of status in their immediate social circle, the one that gives them a feeling of belonging, safety and being valued. If one starts to separate them out and just focus on status as the sort where you can *dominate* others, then Google is fairly clearly a Postcycle phase. But you seem to specifically reject this separation, if I understand correctly.)

So I don't think things map neatly enough to the phases you've identified for your theory to work as a general social observation - but there are nuggets of important insights in your descriptions of the phases, and e.g. it's tautologically true that there will be some time where infighting hits its peak and tautologically true that there will be a phase where it's easiest to become a superstar in the movement, but I think these component parts mix a bit more chaotically in practise than a sequence of phases gives it credit for.

(Arguably since it's a social theory 'but this will never map 100% to reality' is a feature, not a bug. But I honestly just don't find the 'phase' framing as useful as the description of the individual component parts by themselves, which you might observe at any one time in various forms of intermix.)

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Instead of "status", I suggest "esteem", cribbing from Maslow. The other thing about "status" is that it seems to be centered on other people's evaluations of you, which are kind of unknowable. What really matters is not what other people think of you, but what YOU THINK other people think of you. Self-esteem as a subcategory of esteem covers that nicely.

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Aug 21, 2022·edited Aug 21, 2022

Hadn't seen that deBoer article before, I feel like the obvious response is: 'You want to be online and up-to-date enough to make money commenting on the very-online social media bonfire, but you want to be old and slow enough that you don't have to change all of your terminology and ideas every 3-6 months. Sorry, the memetic selection and backlash cycles are just happening faster than that now, you can keep up or you can go back to be a normal person who is not involved. Blame the structure of the internet that is approaching a memetic singularity of near-infinite change over time.'

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Now that I'm ~40, a year or two or even three doesn't feel like very much time, so I may hear about Thing X in 2018 and finally get around to working my way into Thing X's culture in 2022. If Thing X is filled with energetic 20-somethings who have more urgency, then most may have moved on by the time I show up, but I usually DO find such a group of people, who keep the fire burning and are content to be the main players of a diminished thing. I think that if you find that corner of the world where you're a big deal and solidify it at age 29, you aren't likely to move onto the next thing and scramble with the others, you're just gonna hold onto it from inertia so long as there's even a handful of people around. To take the one commenter's D&D example, I certainly expect that if 3 years from now I wanna get into Old School Renaissance content but all the energy moved onto the Rank and Flank Revival, there will be guys from OSR subculture at GenCon still running hexcrawls because that was the particular moment they seized upon.

But political movements don't seem to be like that. When the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley "won", it changed literally 30 seconds later into the Anti-War Movement. As John Searle recounts, Mario shouted "where ya going? we still got a war to stop!", whereupon the people who didn't want to be part of the openly leftist anti-war movement walked away, and there was no FSM anymore by that afternoon.

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TL:DR all comments of comments, sorry if I repeat anyone.

After reading the original post and the comments highlights, I can't help but think: what is being described is an emergent phenomenon by which humanity, unconsciously, sorts new ideas in an effort to survive. What you have is an process, which manifests socially, derived from the adaptive unconsciousness of individuals as they interact with others on cyclicly grander scales. Ideas with fitness are reinforced through institutional solidification, cultural value shifts, legislation, new markets, etc. Low fitness or detrimental ideas decay into turmoil, irrevance, and, sadly, social cannibalism.

And like all emergent phenomenon, inputs cannot be easily manipulated and the outputs cannot be predicted. This is the dilemma of the human experiment.

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I think the term "cycle" becomes useless if you apply it to anything that goes up and down repeatedly. It must be distinguishable from a random walk to be useful.

Any thoughts from anyone on whether the progression of events (that which is being alleged to be one wavelength of a cycle) can be mapped onto the history of academia and universities in the 20th century? (I'm not really interested in whether it's cyclic. I mean, I /would/ be interested if I didn't think the odds of finding cyclic behavior were so low that attempts would be a distraction from the more important question of what happened to academia in the 20th century. Universities go back to the 11th century and I doubt we even have the data to ask about that millenium.)

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