The Trouble with Fame

I found this helpful, from Homo Narrativus and the Trouble with Fame:

So, when we discuss groups, we are left without metaphor. What do we do as a result? We force our single-body stories onto them: Groups become one dominant person—a monarch, the President, Michael Jordan—plus a supporting cast.

These two traits—our compulsion to tell stories, and our bias towards the individual—conspire to ruin our intuitive understanding of fame. They cause us to believe that fame is earned, that it is the result of the intrinsic properties of the famous person or object.

Even weak social signaling skewed the popularity distributions significantly.”

In fact, social systems bear a sensitivity to initial conditions that is the hallmark of chaos theory.

But most importantly, the experiment highlights the role of imitation. The next time you listen to Justin Bieber, and wonder, “Why?” remember that global success has more to do with social imitation than anything else. We have an extraordinary ability and drive to replicate each other’s physical actions and mental processes. Copying is a fundamental part of how we learn, it gives us social cohesion, and it signals group affiliation. It is so pervasive that small moments of mimicry can fall outside of our attention, allowing us to misattribute fame. The origin of global fame is primarily the ability of a given system to allow the faithful copying of a given message.

2 thoughts on “The Trouble with Fame

  1. Two matters: 1) imitation is the sincerest form of worship. Worship appeals to the NT instinctual drive toward preeminence – it says to the one receiving worship “thou art THE GOD of this and all other possible worlds.”. 2) by imitating a famous/powerful/wealthy/whatever person, the principle of ‘contagion’ comes into play, I.e. sympathetic magic. NTs have the principles of ‘magic’ encoded at the level of instinct, meaning they’re often not aware of their reliance upon what amounts to ‘voodoo’. So, whenever you see a Powerful NT, think “is this houngan/mambo in front of me what they claim to be – or are they really a Bokor?”. note: houngan is a male voudou priest, mambo a woman having the same duties, and a bokor is a ‘malevolent sorcerer’ in voudou.

  2. That seems to echo my experience of “gurus” – while I was following John de Ruiter, the desire to imitate or “match” him was very strong, and the closer I got to that, the more I felt like I was getting “it.”

    With Dave Oshana, there is still an element of that but less. More it’s been, the closer I get to “it,” the more I feel like myself, and the less he, the houngan, matters.

    That may relate to the difference in the teachers, “out there” – or it may be more related to my own dissolving NT-fixation-dependency, “in here.”

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