Not only do explanations not entail predictions, successful prediction does not necessarily entail accurate explanation! In some cases you can make successful predictions without knowing how or why! You can be right, but for all the wrong reasons.
How do we explain surprises and (seeming) randomness?
Alternatively stated: one cannot simultaneously observe how one observes what one observes, i.e. one cannot simultaneously distinguish the distinction used to observe from other possible distinctions (i.e. observations)!
This is somewhat misleading. According to Heisenberg, the probability that an electron will be in one location or another can be known and is determined.
Chaos theory goes from simple to complicated. It explains how a few simple relationships can generate really complicated patterns that are difficult to observe or detect. Complexity theory goes in the opposite direction: from complicated relationships to simple patterns. Complexity theory deals with ‘self-organization’, and can explain how millions of complicated organisms called people can generate simple patterns. Chaos theory is determinate, but complexity theory describes systems that are self-organizing (aka emergent) and therefore in principle indeterminate.
Chaos theory goes from simple to complicated. It explains how a few simple relationships can generate really complicated patterns that are difficult to observe or detect. Complexity theory goes in the opposite direction: from complicated relationships to simple patterns. Complexity theory deals with ‘self-organization’, and can explain how millions of complicated organisms called people can generate simple patterns.
Random disturbances create randomness. What creates the random disturbances? Other random events!; In the Pensées, Pascal remarks "Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed“
See pages 227-8 in your book!
See pages 227-8 in your book!
Adam Smith published his famous Wealth of Nations in 1776.
If we assume homogeneity of preferences (i.e. each individual has the same threshold dissatisfaction, say 30%), then about as many new moves are caused as the number of initial moves, displacements. We get significantly more sorting or segregation than any particular individual wanted! The amount of segregation goes up even more, however, if we assume heterogeneity, i.e. each person has a different movement rule.
When people are connected and interdependent, critical states can emerge. In these critical states, small changes can generate disproportionate (nonlinear) ‘domino effects’, ‘chain reactions’, social cascades, snowballing, etc.
Granovetter is perhaps most famous for his concept of the ‘small worlds’ such as in the popular game, 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.
Granovetter is perhaps most famous for his concept of the ‘small worlds’ such as in the popular game, 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. We will cover this later in the semester!
It turns out that groups that are more cooperative can out-compete (and hence survive) better than those that do not. Group-level selection explains how altruistic behavior within groups may have evolved. Surprisingly, hostility towards outsiders can actually create more solidarity within the group.
We can see more details and make more fine-grained distinctions regarding those with whom we spend a lot of time. We always regard ourselves and those close to us as the statistical ‘outliers’, as special individuals. We tend to see others with whom we don’t spend a lot of time in terms of general categories and stereotypes.
Functions and Dysfunctions• “Function” simply means a purpose, intention; what something is used for. – Prefixes: ‘Dys’ vs ‘Dis’ • Dys- Greek prefix meaning ‘defective’, ‘difficult’, or ‘painful.’ • Dis- Latin prefix meaning ‘apart’, ‘asunder’, or ‘deprived of.’• Functional = positive; something works• Dysfunctional = negative consequences; something that doesn’t work.
Latent and Manifest Functions• “Manifest” = obvious, evident, apparent.• “Latent” = not manifest; hidden; concealed. – Like a latent disease; the hidden content of a dream, etc.• Manifest function = intended or conscious purpose (or consequences) of some action. – The reasons people give for why they do things.• Latent function = Robert K. Merton (1910 – 2003) unintended, unconscious, or hidden purposes (consequences) of actions. – The ‘real reasons’ or purposes that people’s actions may have, as seen by outside observers (sociologists)
Latent and Manifest Functions1. Rain Dance Ceremony – Manifest function: • ‘We dance to bring rain’ – Latent function: • The ceremony is ‘really’ a way of building social solidarity through Rain Dance ritual participation
Latent and Manifest Functions2. University Education – Manifest function: • Higher Learning, Education – Latent function: • Keep young adults out of the job market University • Conduct research that supports the ‘Military-Industrial-Complex’ (Eisenhower) • …?
Prediction and Explanation• Important rule: PREDICTION IS NOT THE SAME AS EXPLANATION! – Not all explanations entail predictions – Explaining something means knowing why and how something happened after it happened. – Prediction means being able to say what will happen before it has happened.
Incomplete Knowledge (aka ‘Blind Spots’)• What we can observe is always only a partial perspective of the whole picture: we have to abstract (literally “to cut out”) or select what we regard as important or essential. We simplify.• Over time, these ‘small’ or ‘irrelevant’ influences can have huge consequences! Thus, our predictions which don’t take these influences into account will depart from the observed results. This is not a pipe. It is a picture of a pipe!
Incomplete Knowledge (aka ‘Blind Spots’)• However, this does not in principle mean that we can’t make predictions! We just need to devise better models and improve our knowledge…• Motto: “All models are wrong, but some are useful”• Motto: “The Map is not the Territory”One cannot observe both the world Seeing one thing is always a wayand one’s observing at the same time. of not seeing something else
Fundamental Indeterminacy• Reality itself may be inherently indeterminate (i.e. unpredictable)!• Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: – it is impossible to know with perfect accuracy both the position and momentum of a particle (e.g. electron) at the same time.
Fundamental Indeterminacy• Chaotic systems are extremely sensitive to initial conditions, so that tiny differences in the initial conditions of otherwise identical systems will generate huge differences between them.A butterfly creates massive tornados or hurricanes in another hemisphere. The idea isthat small and simple causes can generate complicated, non-proportional (i.e. ‘non-linear’) effects. Brain teaser: could a butterfly also cause disproportionate phenomenaof a different kind, such as political revolutions or economic or legal upheavals?
Fundamental Indeterminacy• Note: chaos theory as described in the book actually describes phenomena that are, in principle at least, determinate. Chaos, however, does make predicting events difficult in the real world, simply because we can’t know all of the interacting causes and initial conditions! Chaos theory is determinate.• In contrast, Complexity theory describes systems that are self- organizing (aka emergent) and therefore in principle indeterminate.
Fundamental Indeterminacy• Randomness begets randomness!– History is full of accidents: Prediction requires finding general patterns that hold true from one case to the next (across space or time). Such laws can’t Cleopatra exist if tiny events can disrupt 69 BC – 30 BC everything!– Example: “Cleopatra’s Nose Problem” • Marc Antony became infatuated with Cleopatra’s beauty, and to impress her, leads his ship to battle against Octavius, ultimately to defeat. Marc Antony 83 BC - 30 BC
The Problem of Objectivity• If we can discern a pattern, is this the only pattern that exists? Social patterns can be seen from multiple perspectives:• Example: Compare the following number sequences: A- 1 2 3 4. B- 8 5 4 9.• Which has order, i.e. exhibits a pattern?
The Problem of Objectivity A- 1 2 3 4. B- 8 5 4 9.• Both have order! A is in numerical order. B is in alphabetical order.• Order does not inhere in things.• Order (i.e. pattern) is observer-dependent.• Predictions are hypotheses that a pattern observed in the present or past will continue on in the future. Whether or not an individual or group is predictable, however, really depends on the pattern you are attempting to observe.
III. SELF-FULFILLING AND SELF-NEGATING PROPHECIES
Self-fulfilling and Self-negating prophecies• Robert K. Merton also coined the terms – ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and – ‘role model’• A self-fulfilling prophecy is something that comes true because you believe it will come true. – Example: bank run, placebos, psychic Robert K. Merton predictions, etc… (1910 – 2003)• A self-negating prophecy is something that, once believed to be true or expected to happen, cannot happen (or becomes less likely to happen).
The Power of Expectations• Pygmalion Effect (aka Rosenthal effect): the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. – According to legend, Pygmalion was the king of Cyprus who fell in love with a beautiful woman (Galatea) he sculpted out of ivory.
The Power of Expectations• In the 1960s Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson hypothesized that teacher expectations influenced children’s performance.• Study: they randomly assigned 1 out of 5 children to the ‘spurter/bloomer’ group, but told teachers these students were selected to the group based on test performances that indicated future success.• Findings: the kids who were expected to ‘spurt’ made larger improvements than nonspurters.
Self-negating Prophecies• Minority Game: The object is to be in the minority by correctly guessing the number that fewer people choose. Players are instructed to choose either 0 and 1, with the goal of selecting the number that a minority of other players have chosen.• Over time, it is possible for small groups of players to observe latent (unnoticed) patterns and then to take advantage of them. This will only work for so long, as others learn the pattern, adapt to it, and thus wipe it out.• However, with a larger number of players, the patterns become unpredictable.
Self-negating Prophecies• Findings: – The fewer participant-observers there are, the more likely that a imbalance in pattern will go unobserved aggregate New Pattern supply and of Prices (*from the point of view of an demand outside observer). – The more participant-observers there are, the less likely there Individual Investor will be a pattern that remains Decisions unobserved (i.e. latent), and therefore the system become inherently chaotic and random.
Self-negating Prophecies• In the case of financial markets, if one Actions that change New Aggregate person figured out how to predict market patterns Patterns prices, then soon everyone else would adopt that strategy, making the strategy ineffective. This is an example of self- Participant- negating prophecy. Observers• Often observations do not influence actions Observing patterns which affect the aggregate outcomes. In this case, the observers are external or outside observers who observe but have little impact on what they observe. For Actions Aggregate example, academics who can observe have no impact Pattern Remains persistent inequality but have no power to change it. Outside- Observers Observing patterns
Emergent Properties• Methodological Individualism: the idea that society can be explained entirely by the individuals that make up society.• Emergence: when the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Emergent properties are those new (and surprising) properties of the whole that are not possessed by the individuals. – Example: Water into Ice, Consciousness, etc.
Emergence and unintended consequences• The Invisible Hand: a famous and early example of an unintended collective (macro) consequence of individual (micro) actions is Adam Smith’s idea of the ‘Invisible Hand’ of capitalism, where everyone’s selfish desire to make a profit ends up making everyone better off.• The contrary is also often argued: Adam Smith competition may generate a ‘race to the bottom.’
Emergence and unintended consequences• Neighborhood Sorting: Thomas Schelling (2005 Nobel Prize winner) showed Thomas Schelling that macro-level segregation would arise from micro-level tolerance, so long as individuals prefer to live adjacent to some neighbors similar to them.
Emergence and unintended consequences• Imagine a city as a giant checkerboard, and suppose each piece wants 30% of its neighbors to be the same kind.• A few, with more than 30% of its neighbors of a different kind, will move.• Two effects of initial relocations:1. other checkers of the same color from old neighborhood will also want to move2. other checkers of different color in new neighborhood will want to move
Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points• Diversity (differences between people) can lead to ‘Tipping’- the emergence of social cascades, aka chain reactions or domino effects.• TIPPING = a small event or a few small actions can cause a cascade and large scale change• Example: There are 100 people in the mall. How many of them have to be running out of the mall before you run out of the mall also? (Assume you have no understanding of why they running!)
Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points• Diversity and Connectedness lead to ‘Tipping’• Consider two scenarios. – Scenario 1: Homogeneity. Everyone has the same threshold, or tipping point. Everyone will run out of the mall if they see 20 other people run out of the mall. What happens? NOTHING! No one will leave unless 20 other people leave! – Scenario 2: Heterogeneity (Diversity). Everyone is numbered from 1 to 100; their number is also the number of people they need to see running before they also run: their threshold. What happens? First person leaves, then the second, then the third, etc. This generates a chain reaction, aka a CASCADE! Person 0 Person 1 runs Person 2 runs only if 1 other only if 2 other 3 4 5 6 Begins to run person runs people run
Cascades and ‘Tipping’ points• Mark Granovetter devised this threshold model initially to describe riots: – one person will definitely riot; another will riot only if one other person riots; a third will riot only if two others riot; etc…. – We are much more likely to riot ourselves if we see others rioting.• His model explains: 1. Why social changes can be abrupt, discontinuous, and sudden. 2. Why they are so unpredictable. One person in a chain can either cause or prevent a collective chain reaction, or social cascade.• Other examples: clapping, birth rates, dancing at parties, rates of crime, etc.
Functionalist Paradigm1. Consensus about values and norms makes society possible2. Society is a whole made of integrated parts that work (i.e. function) together. – A change to one part of society will affect all others. – All parts are interdependent. – Society is ‘more than the sum of its parts.’3. Society seeks stability and tends to avoid conflict
Conflict Paradigm1. In every society, there are disagreements and differences (i.e. lack of consensus) about values and norms2. Society is made up of subgroups (aka ‘classes’) that are in ruthless competition for scarce resources3. Society is not harmonious: conflict is normal in a society. – The conflict can be latent (i.e. conflict of interests) or manifest (i.e. real conflict such as violence).
Symbolic Interactionist Paradigm• Also known as social constructionists1. How people act depends on how they see and evaluate reality2. People learn from others how to see and evaluate reality3. People constantly interpret the meaning of their own behavior and the behavior of others4. Misunderstanding and conflict comes from people not perceiving reality in the same way
Which paradigm is correct?• Society is like this cube: we can see it from multiple perspectives!• The paradigms are just lenses through which we view society.
Cooperation and Conflict• It is very important to distinguish interaction of individuals within groups and interaction of individuals between groups.• Cooperation often exists within a group. Competition and conflict often exists between groups. Humans are neither totally cooperative, nor totally competitive!• Example: two football teams competing against each other; corporations; nation-states; etc. Cooperation Cooperation Within Within Competition/Conflict Group A BETWEEN Groups Group B
Ethnocentrism and Relativism Ethnocentrism: the ‘process of judging other peoples and their customs and norms as inferior to one’s own people, customs, and norms” (pg. 52). Ethnocentrism is normal! Most societies exhibit some amount of ethnocentrism. Toward Own Group Toward Outsiders See members as superior See outsiders as inferior See own values as universal and See outsiders’ values as false true See own customs as original, See outsiders’ customs as ignorant, reflecting ‘true’ human nature lacking in humanityCultural Relativism: ‘the belief that other people and their ways of doingthings can be understood only in terms of the context of these people’ (pg. 56).McIntyre argues that although ethnocentrism is common, it can get in the way ofunderstanding. To understand others, you have to see things from their point ofview.