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Group Psychology

April 19, 2024

It’s rare to find a piece of content that captures something so fundamental so perfectly:

I’m moved to describe the significance of this video as biblical. So much of everything we understand depends on this clip above demonstrates. If one man dances and someone else is crazy enough to join, a third will join, then a fourth, and soon enough everyone else will follow.

This is one of the fundamental ingredients of mind control. Whether you’re a good person just trying to get people to eat healthier, a self-interested corporation trying to get people to drink more tequila, or an evil government enacting totalitarian control on it’s citizens, this is a powerful tool agents will use to achieve their aims. This is apparent in many aspects of our lives. It’s hard to think of any human behvaior outside basic functions that aren’t implicitly backed by some level of social approval.

The Milgram experiment demonstrated humanity’s inability to resist authority. There’s something similar to that experiment with the video above, something like “humans will act in whichever way costs the least amount of energy”.Except “energy”…that’s not quite right. Clearly dancing requires more energy than laying on the grass. Disagreeableness seems more correct. It takes courage and effort to say “no” to the man in a lab coat behind you asking you to press a button to electrocute a stranger. Similarly when a bunch of humans clump together and dance, most people get the desire to join, and it takes effort to resist the pull. The evolutionary psychology behind this behavior seems straightforward; following the heard and being generally agreeable to the tribe would seem to be a winning modus operandi for the average person. You can imagine disagreeable people (like myself) conversely were more likely to get executed by tribal leaders or completely ostracized from the group and die alone of thirst in the desert. On the other hand, the disagreeable might also reap outsize rewards for their boldness, like Napoleon.

This tendency towards agreeableness at the level of the individual explains why societies appear to constantly cede territory to progressives. It’s much easier to tolerate a small incremental change than to draw a hard line somewhere and say “absolutely not and I will die before I concede this point, even though this line is admittedly somewhat arbitrary and the issue at hand seems trivial”. The colloquialism “give an inch and they’ll take a mile” captures this phenomenon perfectly.

Harnessing the power of this principal is the key to influence, money and power, which is why we see so many people all over the internet try to manufacture the illusion of social presence inorganically. Because simply the illusion of this phenomenon happening can be powerful enough to make it actually happen.

What are you doing to take advantage of this idea yourself?