overestimating the world

The “friendship paradox” (first noted by Feld in 1991) refers to the fact that, on average, people have strictly fewer friends than their friends have. I show that this oversampling of more popular people can lead people to perceive more engagement than exists in the overall population. This feeds back to amplify engagement in behaviors that involve complementarities. Also, people with the greatest proclivity for a behavior choose to interact the most, leading to further feedback and amplification. These results are consistent with studies finding overestimation of peer consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs and with resulting high levels of drug and alcohol consumption.

Building on that is a study about social contagions, behaviors that are accepted to be normative regardless despite the fact that they may occur rarely.

In this paper, we describe a novel variationof the friendship paradox that is essential for understanding contagious behaviors… In a social network, this illusion may cause people to reach wrong conclusions about how common a behavior is, leading them to accept as a norm a behavior that is globally rare. This may explain how global outbreaks can betriggered by very few initial adopters, and why people overestimate how much their friends engage in risky behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use.

or perhaps tide pods?

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i read some articles on some study and theories about the link between smoking cigarettes being seen as “cool” and smoking cigarettes being incredibly difficult as a society to stop.

this is not a very high quality comment but i just wanted to say i’m pretty interested in this and want to read it in depth later. i am feeling tapped out right now.


That’s why we go slow. Over the years I’ve heard from folks that had great insights to add to conversations that closed and passed out of interest, or so perceived, and they kept it to themselves. Slowness is a remedy (hopefully) against that.

Consider looking at inventory in WoW. How does that interact with these models?

Wanna know a maiki-secret? I think about what other people think about all the time.

I’m not great at figuring out anything in aggregate. You know how the past is memory, and the future is potential, so what is now? Well, I always hope “now” is enough time to act on historical data, because I’ve got no idea how people think and act in aggregate, and I’m afraid big data let’s some people figure that out, and hence be able to manipulate the people.

Okay, that’s a thought. Lessons.

I want to say I’ve learned this lesson as it applies to my work, but it may be more accurate to say: there is certainly a lesson there!

For instance, to this day I am not counting my achievements, only my “failures”. Recently I worked with an org for over a decade, so long that I had “been” there the longest (I used to work there and transitioned to contractor). But now they are all different, and it doesn’t work. And I feel devastated to end this relationship, even as it makes all the sense.

OMFG, I worked somewhere for over a decade, while doing other stuff! And I made great things, we helped people, it was great! But what do other people do in this scenario? No one is blogging all the companies they left or stopped working with, they just fluff up their current projects. It makes it hard to get an accurate depiction of reality.

So I’ve got to find the essential, and that is all internal. I can’t get the external validation I need, I don’t even know what it looks like.

Mixing it up, here’s the first thing I thought: we encourage people to inflate what others think and do.

Consider the playing chess. What’s the common saying: become a better player by playing better opponents.

Social networks feel like chess. There are no manuals, or if there are, they are too “technical” to be helpful. We are encouraged to jump in and play along until we pick up the game from others.

I think that works. My kid learned to walk and talk and be a pain in the ass from watching me. But what happens when the “point” of a network is something that no human, given all data points and potential outcome, would willingly join. Online networks, military, pro networking, politics. These have endgames that most people would find disgusting if they were told upfront.

And that, my friend is “not very high quality comment” with the --verbose flag turned on! :slight_smile:

I felt that wasn’t as strong an association as I meant to imply. The reason I think of that is because I have this recurring discussion with @susan every 6 to 18 months, where I get depressed because everyone is doing amazing things and I’m struggling.

To learn I study the work of the “smartest” people I can find, though because of how knowledge is packaged, it means the best at marketing what they do. And I claw my way up, trying to hit their “tier”, but always falling short.

Of course that isn’t what’s happening. But I definitely amplify what a relatively small group of people are doing, and hold myself to that standard, even as I don’t fully understand what is actually happening.

And I’ll say this: it’s hard. Humanity may be wired like this, it’s just how our brains work. And if so, to combat this behavior we will have to do some major reprogramming, and on the personal level, it is exhausting.

It occurs to me that social structures might have mitigating affects on amplification of poor behavior. But how does a group figure out how it wants to act? I liked that idea of swarm intelligence, just not sure that won’t be used to enslave our species… :grimacing:

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The problem of an actor in a distributed, self-organizing system is to figure out how to position themselves in the right feedback loops to detect, reinforce, and encourage behaviors that will help them thrive in tandem with their ecosystems. Maybe your plant species doesn’t need shrub fires to combat high density, and it just needs to make friends with the bees-- sometimes pollination is good enough.

This is a rly nerdy way of saying that competition sometimes works as motivator but often all you need is to be friends with tight people who value what you are and what you do so y’all can validate one another and gas each other up while also holding each other to high standards. Now what sort of structures amplify that?


Yeah, and then list them in #meta! :smile: