Monday, April 27, 2020

Hold Tight: The Herd Is Turning

This whole VIRUS thing really has been a fascinating experiment in herd mentality. It's proven so much of what we already knew about herd dynamics. Now there are some interesting things telling me the herd is shifting on VIRUS this weekend...

(1) First, we have the article I linked to in the comments last night which says that people are starting to break quarantine more. Those are your actual herd leaders. They are called "early adapters" in marketing parlance. They do things differently than the herd does. And once enough of them do it to reach critical mass, the herd seamlessly follows, with the pretend leaders (like politicians and media types and loudly self-proclaimed "INDEPENDENT THINKERS!") racing to the front of the pack and claiming they were the one to spot the trend first.

Usually, what the early adapter do becomes herd policy. But not always. Will it this time?

Well, the article suggests that critical mass has been reached as the numbers are very high and growing. It's also widespread, being early adapters everywhere. Again, that suggests critical mass is upon us. More importantly, the fact the Daily Mail put the article near the top of its site and didn't treat it with mockery suggests the Daily Mail sees this as the new trend and is prepared to move in that direction, barring a backlash from the public.

(2) There's more. There is an article making the rounds of the news sites now of a "teacher" who got caught on film screaming at some kids that she hopes they die of VIRUS because they dared... DARED to play football outside. The teacher is the villain of the article. This type of article would have been spun completely differently last week or before. It would have been about the sainted teacher trying to save the sinning kids from dying. The fact the devout is being mocked suggests that the religion has changed. VIRUS is a fake god, all praise FREEDOM.

Keep in mind too, teachers are blameless holy creatures unless they are racists or males who offend females. So the fact they are passing this around is doubly significant. But either way, the significance is that the same people who have been printing nothing but confessions by people who denied VIRUS and died or got sick and are begging forgiveness, suddenly are slandering a believer in favor of some deniers. That's a complete reversal in belief. Herd mentality requires villains. It needs clearly designated persons of mockery and virtue to ensure that we know the bounds of behavior. This is literally a 180 degree switch in what is villainous. One day, it was those #floridamorons who went to a beach (even if they were social distancing) and now it's the witch yelling at kids who wanted to be outside.

I guarantee you that the papers are about to fill with celebrities mocking their usual most-hated-persons (e.g. Trump supporters, conservatives, parents, religious types, etc.) who can't stand it that we good virtuous people want to be outside!

(3) Saturday Night Live, no matter how gently or how unfunnily, made fun of Dr. Fauci... the world's expert. The power of experts is breaking and, with it, the herd is preparing itself to ditch the experts. Indeed, herd mentality requires that we ridicule that which we formerly saw as god-like if we are going to go against dogma. So poking fun at Fauci will soothe the herd's fears about a reversal of policy.

(4) Finally, Boring Amy has said she favors opening Minnesota. She's one of the first national Democrats to support reopening. And don't forget, Amy is a saint, being the only woman ever to run for President and with her husband having suffered VIRUS. That's really the first defection among Democrats, who had been taking the position that southern Republican governors wanted people to die. That's evidence to me that the Democrats watched Georgia and Florida this weekend, didn't see a backlash, and now see the herd shifting. (It will be interesting to see if they backtrack in 4-5 days when virus cases show a surge, but for now, this is the new direction.)



AndrewPrice said...

Took a quick run outside. Even though we are supposed to be open for the most part, few of the smaller businesses opened. Government offices like the DMV are closed. There is a little more traffic, but not much. It looks like little changed overnight.

tryanmax said...

There are a couple competing persuasive modes in play. On the one side, you have an increasing number of early adopters going back to normal. Typically, once you get to 16%, then the early majority jumps in. However, we have strong persuasion from authority to maintain social distancing, and it seems effective. Depending on how much people distance, it may suppress that 16% for awhile.

I would look for things to open up on their own in just the manner needed. Red/rural areas will open up first because it's consistent with their self-image of self-determination. Blue/urban areas will be more reluctant as they wait for more social proof and all-clear signals from authority.

If the virologists are correct, there will be a second peak, and I expect it to hit at about the point where momentum shifts from early majority to late majority. That's a weird place for a pause, so it's hard to say how that shakes out.

The other factor to consider is the economic comeback of places that open first. Blue areas think of themselves as economic drivers, so it won't sit well with them if/when red places rebound first/faster. So there are multiple lines of influence at play.

tryanmax said...

Getting some likes on this article on Twitter.

AndrewPrice said...

Cool, thanks tryanmax! I'm not on twitter, so I did not know. :)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. Let me add some thoughts.

The second round is inevitable unless we somehow managed to kill it through isolation, which we obviously didn't as there are still new cases.

It will be interesting to see how the public handles it when that happens. Will they freak out or will they shrug their shoulders and assume that it won't be them? I'm thinking the celebrities (who are always unsure of new trends) will squeal like stuck pigs to get ahead of any backlash, but will swing back fast if there isn't one. As for the public, I think our innate sense of underestimating risks will now kick in and the public will assume that everyone else may get it, but they won't personally. Since there aren't bodies in the streets, the risk now feels remote to most people.

On economics, I see that too, that the blue states are worried about falling behind the red states. Cuomo and Newsome in particular seem to have gone from "this is about SAFETY and could last forever" to "let's get this sucker open as fast as possible."

tryanmax said...

The next new hotness will be "Why won't mean ol' Trump open up the economy faster?" I don't know how much recovery will be required to keep the economic damage from hanging like an albatross around Trump's neck. My guess is between 40 - 80% and a lot depends on how senile Joe appears on the Digital Town Hall sponsored by Zoom Meetings.

AndrewPrice said...

Don't worry, tryanmax. I'm sure that no matter what adjective(s) they pick, Trump will reopen the economy the wrong way -- too fast, too slow, too hard, too soft, too the wrong order, too the wrong things, too mean, too biased, just plain too too.

Biden really looks rough lately. He looks stunned and dumber than ever.

ArgentGale said...

Good observations and it looks like you're on to something. Here in Georgia the early opening apocalypse never happened. People are still remaining cautious on their own, with some businesses remaining closed anyway, and there was no rush on my favorite downtown spot today either. They blocked off every other booth and side table, closed off the bar to sit-down customers, and put more space between (fewer) outside tables since the open businesses still have to abide by social distancing rules. Most customers are still sticking to takeout, though, so it was just me and one other person on opposite sides of the restaurant. Not the greatest situation but actually getting to sit down outside of the house for a few minutes was still quite nice. We've still got a few weeks to go before the herd kicks in, I think, but people at work were a lot more relaxed about the reopening since the predicted stampede of people and their diseases never materialized. Aldi at least is more or less back to normal on the grocery front, too.

If even Polis is starting to get on board with reopenings it sounds like things really are changing there. Also, take note of the UN noting a food shortage from the farming mess the shutdowns caused as reported by the New York Times, which it's taking quite seriously. Never mind that people worried about the second and third order effects from the shutdown have been beating this drum from the start (and being told they want grandma to die for the stock market by these very same people of course). The next few weeks are going to be interesting for sure.

AndrewPrice said...

There's an article today about "a fresh round of protests against Amazon." The article is very unclear as to when these protests happened and if they are the same ones as before. Interestingly, the number of people calling in sick was almost identical to the number of people from the past one.

Even more interestingly, it's the same names throughout the article. So it's the same 2-3 people pushing this. Basically, they've become professional Amazon attackers.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks, Daniel.

We opened today, but nothing really seems to have changed. Few new businesses were open. None of the ones already opened changed their safety practices. So I'm thinking it will take time for people to be willing to risk changes at the moment. Plus, most everything was already open, so there wasn't much to change either.

AndrewPrice said...

Here's another telling headline. From the Daily Mail:

Nearly HALF of all New Yorkers claim to know someone who has died from COVID-19, survey reveals

This headline would never have been used last week. Notice the doubt about the proposition that VIRUS has killed so many people with the word "claim." It almost reads like, "If you can believe it, New Yorkers are saying... yeah right." Last week, this would have been: "At least half of New Yorkers know someone who DIED from VIRUS!!!"

Another subtle, but significant shift.

Critch said...

Hillary just endorsed Biden...reminds me of The Godfather Part 2 when Michael Corleone kissed his brother's a set-up.

tryanmax said...

I saw a political cartoon that I thought deserved a retort.
Point, Counterpoint

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I would laugh if Hillary invited Joe out onto a boat now.

tryanmax, Very nice counterpoint!

Tennessee Jed said...

I believe it is happening, although the so called main stream media still can pound hard to scare folks

Jen said...

Hi Andrew, and anybody else who is familiar. I remembered something this evening, and was trying to figure out where to post it. A looooonnnng time ago on this blog, I posted a comment that said, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle 'em with Biden". Funny how some things never change.

My state *supposedly* opened last week, but I was one of the renegades who didn't abide by the stay at home orders, and neither did my friends, plus a couple of immediate family members. None of us know of anyone who has tested positive for this virus.

The Commie county to the north of mine (where most of my family resides) is now pushing for everyone to wear masks. A friend commented, "Nothing like closing the barn door after the cows get out". My Dad has yet to stay home, and he's pushing 90. You visit places where I live, and only a handful will be wearing a mask.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens next. I went with my brother last weekend to the Commie state to the north of us. He had to pick up something Ag related, and it was quite the drive. Interesting to see how many people DID NOT stay home, because there was traffic everywhere. We also did not see one cop on the way there, or back.

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