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Ben_Jones comments on Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs - Less Wrong

41 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 07 December 2007 11:08PM

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Comment author: Ben_Jones 22 January 2008 09:22:52AM 4 points [-]

Just saw this.

Have a look at the first letter. Classic example of this post's subject. Newcastle had a good fanbase from all around England a few years ago, but "as soon as Keegan was gone [world not ending as predicted] so were the neutrals [skeptical followers] owing to the fact that they were never really accepted as 'real' Newcastle fans on account of they weren't Geordies. They don't have any 'outsider' fans to keep them calm and give them a sense of reality." I read that and had to stop myself saying "Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs!" out loud in the office....

I'd already thought of this myself before I saw the article. Not only is Evaporative Cooling in evidence at Newcastle United, they are caught in a Happy Death Spiral. For the philistines out there, Newcastle United Football Club recently reappointed Kevin Keegan as manager. Keegan was a star as a player for Newcastle thirty years ago, and had a spell as a manager about ten years back. They played brilliant attacking football under him, but Keegan's tactical naivete saw them throw away a commanding lead to lose the championship. He left, and it's been downhill ever since.

In the intervening years the team has struggled to show any real class, and rose-tinted hindsight means the fans still call Keegan 'The Messiah'. His recent second return has been greeted as if it were actually the second coming. He and the supporters have had a big old media love-in, reinforcing one another's sense of righteousness, and the club is now unnaturally confident about its prospects. When Keegan's faults are pointed out to fans, the stock reply is 'who cares, the Messiah's back, we're going to see some exciting football!'

Hope this makes sense in the states....