Physics does not explain everything especially why people who are trying to buck the mainstream all end up “looking alike”. More likely this is a matter of broader socioeconomic conditions which limit the options of those who wish to exist outside of the mainstream of society. Unless a hipster makes their own clothing from scratch all they can do is create new combinations of clothing worn by the majority. The number of combinations being limited means that those who try to dress differently than the majority wind up dressing like one of a small number of possible combinations of clothes manufactured for the majority.
As a theoretical physicist who studies various “theories of everything” I should be the last person to point out this obvious flaw in the logic of the recent paper by (Touboul, 2019). After reading it I have no argument with the physics it is a good application of the same sort of techniques used to explain phase transitions in matter. Furthermore, there is a danger to people like me that such work could be dangerously misapplied.
Clothes Are Produced By And For The Majority To Make Money.
The obvious flaw in the (Touboul, 2019) ‘s analysis is that they ignore the fact that the majority controls the means of production of products one can buy. This is true in any reasonable economic system. What is supplied is that for which there is the most demand.
This means that members of minority groups, such as those who truly choose to make themselves a minority i.e. Hipsters must craft their material culture from the available products on the market. In a single word clothing.
If one is a hipster, and wishes to dress differently than the masses, unless one can manufacture cloth, and sew it into garments, one must choose from what is available in stores.
If one can only choose from the clothes available in stores in large, inexpensive quantities, then one can either choose the combination of shirt and pants favored by the majority OR one of a small set of combinations available but not favored.
Hence in the effort to look different people wind up looking the same. Not because of some complicated effect that needs quantum mechanics to explain it, but because of the economic fact that clothing manufacturers are in business to make money.
Dangerous Misuse of Science.
Being LGBT … especially T… is perceived as being just a
countercultural choice by some people. There is a real danger that certain commentators
who may latch onto a single scientific paper and use it in debates to “prove”
that being transgender is just a social contagion. A paper like this could be
used by a huckster to argue that it is mathematically proven to be so.
This is not hypothetical as this has happened already. Some think they higher prevalence of transgenderism observed now is because of social contagion. They are half right. The higher visibility of transgender people is because of greater social tolerance of difference. This is, hopefully, a part of our evolution from a species that will make war on the slightly different inhabitants of the next valley because they tie their toga about the right shoulder instead of the left …. To one which does not wage war at all at some point.
Indeed, one could misapply this to trivialize and oppress any group with differences that are not obvious to the casual observer. (As in not color based minorities but perhaps even religious groups or atheist or scientist ”nerds”/”geeks” why not?)
If there is a lesson here, it is in the limits of what is comprehensible with equations alone. To truly validate this idea with math one would need a simulation as complex as the real world itself. Good math does not automatically mean good science.
Could not find a good video about this subject so here is a Hipster fact checker fact checking themselves
April APS Presentation
I will be presenting my latest theoretical work to the American Physical Society this April. I will write about it here and I am working on a new publication giving simple observations that could validate some aspects of this evolved model. So I too will be checking myself.
Touboul, J. (2019). The hipster effect: When anticonformists all look the same. ArXiv. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/1410.8001