How is it that a bad apple ruins a whole bunch? And why isn't it the case that a good apple un-spoils a bunch of rotten ones?
An answer to this question is not just in the interest of grocers, but also those of us interested in jettisoning asshole friends, and becoming better people.
Friends of Charlie Sheen, take note.
To start with a positive note, I think association doesn't just bring us down, as the apple adage seems to suggest. For example, riding with guys like Brigham Lumm, Brian Butts, Brownie and Sexy Tony (as I did last night) makes me believe that a few good apples can un-spoil a rotten one like me (at least when it comes to my FTP).
Social imitation--here are some examples of its power:
-children's performance in schools is more like the success of their peers than the performance of their parents (source)
-America becoming fatter because the rest of us became fat (source)
-the recent spread of unfortunate facial hair choice through the peleton.
Let's look at this last example as an illustration of how it works.
Steve Cozza introduces the pedo stache to the pro peleton in April of 2010:
Rugg introduces the look to MABRA elites in July 2010:
This year, Masters racers have finally begun sporting the look, albeit in ironic fashion and in posed foppery:
How does the spreading of "memes" such as this work? The effect, as Dawkins noted when he introduced the term, is analogous to infectious disease.
First, a deviant, a person of unusual disposition, introduces the meme. The deviant is weird, but like Austin or Portland--in a way that is not too frightening, and possibly worth cultivating. Others imitate the deviant. Then deviant behavior becomes the norm.
That is, four steps from Rugg to Uncle Pappy, or from Portland to Atlanta.
The following illustrates the effect of deviants upon society:
Stage 1: Introduction
The deviant, seen here in the upper right-hand corner, introduces deviant behavior (pedostachery):
Stage 2: Adaptation.
Others adopt deviant behavior.
Stage 3: Ubiquity
Deviant behavior becomes the norm.
Stage 4: Anti-deviancy
At this point even masters racers adopt a certain behavior, and a new stage of deviancy begins--one where cleanshavedness is the new pedostachery.
Of course, there are some forms of deviancy that go too far. Society either ignores or shuns these super-deviants. For deviant, think Robert Downey. For super-deviant, think Gary Bussey.
MABRA has its own super-deviants. Consider this fellow, snapped and examined by Larue:
Imagine the moral decay that would be MABRA if we followed the example of this deviant:
(1) a tendency to swill what might well be yak milk from a bottle;
(2) absolute fearlessness about assuming balls-to-bar straddle while tossing back a cold one pose;
(3) red white and blue rack, yellow tires with black sidewalls, Powertap combo;
(4) cockpit laptop mount;
(5) ski goggles with balaclava with bright yellow helmet condom;and
(6) to paraphrase Jay-Z, backpack, saddlepack, barpack, everything all-pack;
As strange as this guy seems to us, I wonder if this is how we look to the average American: douches on bikes, not properly fat enough, not properly wasteful enough.
In other words, we're all deviants to them.