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Extended Summary: The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority
How Europe will eat HalalWhy you dont have to smoke in the smoking sectionYour food choices on the fall of the Saudi king How to prevent a friend from working too hard Omar Sharif s conversionHow to make a market collapse T he best example I know that gives insights into the functioning of a complex system is with the following situation.
The main idea behind complex systems is that the ensemble behaves in way not predicted by the components.
Studying individual ants will never (one can safely say never for most such situations), never give us an idea on how the ant colony operates.
The minority rule will show us how it all it takes is a small number of intolerant virtuous people with skin in the game, in the form of courage, for society to function properly..
This example of complexity hit me, ironically, as I was attending the New England Complex Systems institute summer barbecue.
There was a fine print: a tiny symbol, a U inside a circle, indicating that it was Kosher.
A strange idea hit me.
Why? Simply because going full Kosher allows the producer, grocer, restaurant, to not have to distinguish between Kosher and nonkosher for liquids, with special markers, separate aisles, separate inventories, different stocking sub-facilities.
Or, rephrased in another domain: A disabled person will not use the regular bathroom but a nondisabled person will use the bathroom for disabled people.
Which explains why it is so hard to find peanuts on airplanes and why schools are peanut-free (which, in a way, increases the number of persons with peanut allergies as reduced exposure is one of the causes behind such allergies).
And the rule is an asymmetry in choices.
I once went to lunch with a friend visiting from Europe: the restaurant only had availability in the smoking sections.
Two more things.
But, when a population has an even spatial distribution, say the ratio of such a minority in a neighborhood is the same as that in the village, that in the village is the same as in the county, that in the county is the same as that in state, and that in the sate is the same as nationwide, then the (flexible) majority will have to submit to the minority rule.
But if the manufacturing of Kosher lemonade cost substantially more, then the rule will be weakened in some nonlinear proportion to the difference in costs.
For Muslim and Jews have near-identical slaughter rules (all Kosher is halal for most Sunni Muslims, or was so in past centuries, but the reverse is not true).
Now consider this manifestation of the dictatorship of the minority.
Close to ten percent of the chain Subway carry halal-only stores (meaning no pork), in spite of the high costs from the loss of business of nonpork stores.
For instance, the 7th Century Christian Arab poet Al-Akhtal made a point to never eat halal meat, in his famous defiant poem boasting his Christianity: I do not eat sacrificial flesh One can expect the same rejection of religious norms to take place in the West as the Muslim populations in Europe grows.
In the U.S.
Labeling something organic is a way to say that it contains no transgenic GMOs.
As I said, your snap scientific judgment is too naive in these type of decisions.
How? Say you have a corporate event, a wedding, or a lavish party to celebrate the fall of the Saudi Arabian regime, the bankruptcy of the rent-seeking investment bank Goldman Sachs, or the public reviling of Ray Kotcher, chairman of Ketchum the public relation firm that smears scientists and scientific whistleblowers on behalf of big corporations.
And as organic food (and designations such as natural) is in higher demand, from the minority rule, distribution costs decrease and the minority rule ends up accelerating in its effect.
Another example: do not think that the spread of automatic shifting cars is necessarily due to the majority of drivers initially preferring automatic; it can just be because those who can drive manual shifts can always drive automatic, but the reciprocal is not true .
Each one of the four boxes will contain four boxes, and so all the way down, and all the way up until we reach a certain level..
There are two colors: yellow for the majority choice, and pink for the minority one.
The color of the box is pink and the others yellow.
will opt for nonGMO.
The local grocery store realizing the neighborhood is only nonGMO switches to nonGMO to simplify life, which impacts the local wholesaler, and the stories continues and renormalizes.
Galam was first to apply these renormalization techniques to social matters and political science; his name was familiar as he is the author of the main book on the subject, which had then been sitting for months in an unopened Amazon box in my basement.
Galams models produced a bevy of counterintuitive effects in political science and his predictions turned out to be way closer to real outcomes than the naive consensus..
The fact we saw from the renormalization group the veto effect as a person in a group can steer choices.
When there are few choices, McDonalds appears to be a safe bet.
Pizza is the same story: it is commonly accepted food and outside a fancy party nobody will be blamed for ordering it.
So you only need one set of glasses if you serve only winethe universal donor, to use the language of blood groups.
It all started with the asymmetric rule that those who are nonnative in English know (bad) English, but the reverse (English speakers knowing other languages) is less likely.
We can thus get some intuition on how the emergence of lingua franca languages can come from minority rulesand that is a point that is not visible to linguists.
It was the Persians who speak an Indo-European language who spread Aramaic, the language of Assyria, Syria, and Babylon.
If your secretary can only take dictation in Aramaic, Aramaic is what you will use.
For during the Hellenistic era, Greek replaced Aramaic as the lingua franca in the Levant, and the scribes of Damascus maintained their records in Greek.
A French Canadian friend from Montreal, Jean-Louis Rheault, commented as follows, bemoaning the loss of language of French Canadians outside narrowly provincial areas.
The original Islamic rulers werent particularly interested in converting Christians as these provided them with tax revenues the proselytism of Islam did not address those called people of the book, i.
In fact, my ancestors who survived thirteen centuries under Muslim rule saw advantages in not being Muslim: mostly in the avoidance of military conscription.
Second, becoming Muslim is irreversible, as apostasy is the heaviest crime under the religion, sanctioned by the death penalty.
He later divorced, but did not revert to the faith of his ancestors.
Likewise, one can see how Judaism doesnt spread and tends to stay in the minority, as the religion has opposite rules: the mother is required to be Jewish, causing interfaith marriages to leave the community.
Egypt has a flat terrain.
allows the asymmetric rule to prevail) we saw earlier in the chapter that for Kosher rules to work, one needed Jews to be somewhat spread out across the country.
Egypts Copts suffered from another problem: the irreversibility of Islamic conversions.
Little by little a Christian or Jewish family bearing the marrano-style conversion becomes truly converted, as, a couple of generations later, the descendants forget the arrangement of their ancestors.
Roman pagans were initially tolerant of Christians, as the tradition was to share gods with other members of the empire.
But Christians were intolerant of Roman paganism.
All we have is the bit we know about the reversion to Christianity during the emperor Julians apostasy and the writings of his entourage of Syrian-Greek pagans such as Libanius Antiochus..
Julian had tried to go back to Ancient Paganism in vain: it was like trying to keep a balloon under water.
(My heuristic is that the more pagan, the more brilliant ones mind, and the higher ones ability to handle nuances and ambiguity.
Judaism might have almost lost because of the mother-rule and the confinement to a tribal base, but Christianity ruled, and for the very same reasons, Islam did.
For Islam itself is ending up being taken over (in the Sunni branch) by the purists simply because these were more intolerant than the rest: the Wahhabis, founders of Saudi Arabia, were the ones who destroyed the shrines, and to impose the maximally intolerant rule, in a manner that was later imitated by ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/the Levant).
How do books get banned? Certainly not because they offend the average person most persons are passive and dont really care, or dont care enough to request the banning.
The great philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell lost his job at the City University of New York owing to a letter by an angry and stubborn mother who did not wish to have her daughter in the same room as the fellow with dissolute lifestyle and unruly ideas.
No, it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance.
We saw earlier in the chapter the asymmetry between obeying and breaking rules: a law-abiding (or rule abiding) fellow always follows the rules, but a felon or someone with looser sets of principles will not always break the rules.
It turns out that, in classical Arabic, the term halal has one opposite: haram.
Haram is haram and is asymmetric.
A probabilistic argument in favor of the minority rule dictating societal values is as follows.
And one property of these laws: they are black-and-white, binary, discrete, and allow no shadow.
Now it would be vastly more likely that these values emerged from a minority that the majority.
What emerges from the minority rule is more likely to be be black-and-white.
He has two options.
Now look at the inverse problem, a collection of dead people after a dinner party, and you need to investigate the cause.
The black-and-white character of these societal laws can be explained with the following.
Clearly can democracy by definition the majoritytolerate enemies? The question is as follows: Would you agree to deny the freedom of speech to every political party that has in its charter the banning the freedom of speech?.
Lets go one step further, Should a society that has elected to be tolerant be intolerant about intolerance? This is in fact the incoherence that Kurt Gdel (the grandmaster of logical rigor) detected in the constitution while taking the naturalization exam.
I wrote about people with logical flaws asking me if one should be skeptical about skepticism; I used a similar answer as Popper when was asked if one could falsify falsification.
Actually, as we saw, it will eventually destroy our world.
The West is currently in the process of committing suicide.
Yes, the most motivated rules.
Markets react in a way that is disproportional to the impetus.
Why did the market react so disproportionately? Because the order was one-way stubbornthere was desire to sell but no way to change ones mind.
And the best way to detect a sucker (say the usual finance journalist) is to see if his focus is on the size of the door or on that of the theater.
We will return later with a discussion of how the minority rule is behind Karl Poppers approach to science.
is the title of a book of anecdotes by the great Richard Feynman, the most irreverent and playful scientist of his day.
Science isnt the sum of what scientists think, but exactly as with markets, a procedure that is highly skewed.
Alexander said that it was preferable to have an army of sheep led by a lion to an army of lions led by a sheep.
He was inspired by a version of this maxim.
This large payoff from stubborn courage is not just in the military.
Society doesnt evolve by consensus, voting, majority, committees, verbose meeting, academic conferences, and polling; only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle.
 Note some minor variations across regions and Islamic sects.
 The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
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