In today’s Times, Thomas Edsell wrote an op about an odd and disturbing social phenomenon that’s cropped up recently, and has been named and delineated by three political science researchers, two Danish and one American.
Disturbing, yes, so why am I feeling rather strutty? Feeling like emitting a quiet form of braggadocio?
Because I learned about this a month or so ago. And, obeying the common social dictum, I saw something, and said something.
Over the past several months I’ve been finishing up Part II of my book, How I Learned The Facts of Life. Which I have indeed mentioned at least a few times.
Part I is The Facts of Life; Part II is, natch, The Fakes of Life.
I had quite a bit of material on fakes — bots, trolls, fake news and the like. I also had picked up some interesting research material on why people might believe fakes.
After I heard about the need for chaos from Harper’s Magazine Findings, I spent some time trying to find a definition of the Need for Chaos Metric and found corroboration of the political science study Harper’s referred to.
It was published in a political science journal, and co-written by two scientists from Denmark’s Aarhus University (Michael Bang Petersen and Mathias Osmundsen), and one from Temple University (Kevin Arcenaux). The title of the study adds a piece of critical information, which I’ve bolded: “A ‘Need for Chaos’ and the Sharing of Hostile Political Rumors in Advanced Democracies.”
The people who share such “hostile political rumors” are “status-hungry, and from socially marginalized groups.”
Which you’ll learn from reading Thomas Edsell, link above. But — I’m uncomfortable saying this — you heard it from me first.