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Emergent Properties and Criminal Conspiracies

shystee's picture

At the BARBARian drinkfest last week qubit of The Token Reader explained the Physics/Philosophy concept of Emergent Properties to me. Qubit said he thought it similar to a theory of conspiracy (not the same thing as a conspiracy theory, mind you) I had posted about on the Ol' Shysteeblog.


An emergent behaviour or emergent property can appear when a number of simple entities (agents) operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviours as a collective.

The property itself is often unpredictable and unprecedented, and represents a new level of the system's evolution. The complex behaviour or properties are not a property of any single such entity, nor can they easily be predicted or deduced from behaviour in the lower-level entities. The shape and behaviour of a flock of birds or school of fish are good example.

The Ol' Shysteeblog:

It's not a conspiracy, it's a coincidence of common interests. Michael Ledeen's visions of American Fascism dominating the entire World coincide with the Neocon's vision of dominating the entire world, starting with the Middle East, which coincides with Israeli Likudnik's desire to eliminate all threats in their region which coincided with George W. Bush's desire to avenge an attempt on his Poppy's life, which coincided with Halliburton and other global corporations' desire to plunder the Middle East's resources, which coincides with Christian Religious Fanatics' vision of the End Times, the Rapture, and desire to continue Republican control of Government...

It goes on and on. The point is, these groups did not get together in a room and draft a resolution proclaiming "we're on a mission to destroy the world, this is how we're going to do it..." The reality is: different groups acting on independent motivations in order to... destroy the world.

This theory can be applied to the Italian Job Yellowcake Forgeries. Many different entities acting out of very different, self-interested motives but the end result is a conspiracy. Multiple actors working together, with tight coordination even if not strict command and control, towards a common goal.

It can also be applied to TraitorGate. Journalists and Government officials working together for different reasons towards outing a covert CIA agent. Even within the White House, maybe there never was a meeting where all the players sat down and decided to punish Joe Wilson by going after his wife. Maybe it was just a series of phone calls between people who all understood what needed to be done.

That's how the Soprano's operate. I would expect no less from these people.

Paulie: "Eh, Tony, you remember our friend Joe? Somebody told me he's got a lovely wife. Lovely. But she don't like people to know what her job is. Weird. "

Tony: "Yeah, wierd. I'll pick up some sfogliatella at the bakery and I'll see you at the Bing."

But is it not a conspiracy if it wasn't proposed and agreed upon in a sit-down with all the players present? The theory of Emergent Conspiracies would say it is a conspiracy.

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