The Coming Preference Cascade

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The wave is still gathering, and rising ominously, but it is not yet a breaker. It has not yet crashed onto the beach. But if you are willing to look, you can see it rising. And you can see it headed this way.

A preference cascade occurs when numerous individuals, around the same time, realize that they are not “the only one” who thinks the way they do. Before the moment arrives there is an established orthodoxy which remains unquestioned in the official spaces, but as people are left alone with their own thoughts, they find themselves thinking in various heterodox ways. And then, one day it happens. Numerous individuals discover, all at once they discover, that many others believe that the reigning acceptableness is . . . unacceptable.

When that happens, there is a lurch, a revolution, an unexpected plot twist. And I believe we are due for a momentous preference cascade. Some recent smaller examples would include the Arab spring, the Brexit vote, and the 2016 election of Trump. You will notice that I am describing a sociological phenomenon, one that can be filled with different “doctrinal” content. This is something that people do, whether left, right, or in the middle. We might agree with the preference cascade, or we might not. But it is still there.

Authorities and the Crisis of Authority

In modern society, we have all kinds of authorities. We have scientific authorities, media authorities, government authorities, medical authorities, military authorities, religious authorities, and so on. And the nature of the coming preference cascade is that all these authorities are having to deal with challenges to their authority by amateurs, interlopers, members of alien guilds, unaccredited critics, and so on.

Now such challenges always exist, but a crisis of authority happens when these outside challengers get some traction—when the public starts paying attention to them. This is what happened when Dan Rather was toppled from his position as a media demigod.

The kind of authority I am talking about here is a mojo authority, the kind of authority that allows leaders to govern. They may govern ineptly, or they may govern well, but for the most part they govern unquestioned. This is because everybody is busy with their own affairs, and the bungles of authority don’t get in the way too much.

But the bunglers never want to leave well enough alone, so they continue to bungle some more. At some point it gets to intolerable levels. And one individual starts to think, “Hey, this is getting to intolerable levels, but I guess that’s just me.” But as time goes on, and the authorities continue to think that the climate control thermostat on the wall of their insular bubble is representative of the way it is outside the bubble, and they continue on with their clueless and dunder-headed ways, a time comes when that one individual looks across the room, and his eyes meet those of another individual. Recognition occurs. You too? They glance around the room, and recognize at least six others nodding their heads.

When this is not going on, the authorities seem like a fixture, like a granite wall that isn’t going anywhere. But when a crisis of authority sets in, the authorities, unaccustomed to having their authority questioned, start doing all the wrong things. They issue mandatory requirements, intended to display their authoritative decisiveness, but which only have the effect of setting the whole thing on fire. There is a way of commanding that is an exercise of authority, but there is also a way of commanding that simply serves as an accelerant to their vanishing authority. The more they issue risible decrees, the funnier it becomes.

The aura of authority is volatile, meaning that it can evaporate at room temperature. And if the temperature rises just a few degrees, then all of a sudden . . . the word that comes to mind is poof.

Saul and David

In 1 Samuel 15, Saul went to war with the Amalekites, and despite a commandment from the Lord to kill them all, he spared their king, Agag. This is how many Christians unfortunately mortify their sins—killing all of them except for the king. Samuel confronted him for his disobedience, and as a consequence, the Lord determined to replace Saul. Samuel was led to anoint David, and shortly after this we read:

But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.

1 Samuel 16:14 (KJV)

Years later, after David had replaced Saul, he also sinned grievously, just as Saul had done with the Amalekites. David knew that he had forfeited the empowerment of the Spirit of God by his actions, and so this is why he prayed . . .

“Cast me not away from thy presence; And take not thy holy spirit from me.”

Psalm 51:11 (KJV)

David is not talking about his personal salvation here. In the next verse, he prays that God would restore the joy of his salvation (Ps. 51:12), not his salvation. When the Spirit first came upon Saul, He enabled him to govern. And then when the Spirit departed from him, this meant that his dynasty was going to unravel, of necessity.

Now David knew that his sin with Bathsheba, and the killing of Uriah, adultery and murder respectively, were every bit as bad as the sin that Saul had committed when he forfeited his kingdom. Saul had spared Agag, and David had not spared Uriah. David knew that God had every right to do to him as He had in fact done with Saul—and he pleaded with him not to.

God granted Solomon majesty (1 Chron. 29:25), which is another way of saying that God bestowed regal and civil authority on him.

Now this is talking about kings in Israel, granted, and so we are dealing with the set-apart people of God. But there is a secular form of the same thing, one that applies to anyone who holds authority. God gives the position, true enough (Rom. 13: 1-7), but He also grants the wisdom that keeps it from vanishing. Wisdom says this:

“By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.”

Proverbs 8:15–16 (KJV)

Folly Throws Wisdom Away, and Mojo With It

Let me ask you a question. Just last week, what did our medical authorities do? Why, the AMA called for biological sex to be removed from all birth certificates. What did our athletic authorities do? They let a dude compete in the women’s Olympic weightlifting competition. What did the governor of New York do? After having chased thousands of businesses out of his state, he publicly chided them. You see, if they don’t come back, then New York will suffer. That is like an abusive boyfriend telling his ex that if she doesn’t move back in, he will be sad. Because he doesn’t have anybody to punch anymore.

When the authorities abandon wisdom, and please follow me closely here, wisdom abandons them. And when wisdom abandons them, the public starts to notice. I do acknowledge that there can be something of a time lag, as the moral capital of previous generations of leaders is not entirely used up. But then, when it hits, it hits.

Things can look normal, and can photograph well, but if you have a rickety skyscraper in earthquake country, the whole thing is a waiting game. When the building is rickety, that is the pending crisis, and when the earthquake hits, that is the actual crisis.

Now the decision of the AMA is obviously an absurd one, but what matters is that an enormous amount of people see it as an absurd one. A preference cascade could happen even when the outnumbered authorities are right—but when they are absurdly wrong, that makes the whole thing a bit more festive. The peasants with pitchforks know what a girl is, and all the trained medical authorities have professed themselves to be not quite sure anymore.

The illegitimacy of the Biden administration is another example. Even if there had been no funny business in Fulton County and Maricopa County, the political establishment is still in trouble because of how their behavior has reinforced perceptions of said funny business. Yes, it looked as though they had their hand in the cookie jar, and yes, there are witnesses who say their hand was in the cookie jar, but all the respected voices of (vanishing) authority maintain that the cookie jar was actually empty on election night, and furthermore they have sent platoons of lawyers to fight any proposed audit of the cookie jar. So if millions of people believe you stole the election, that does something really bad, even if you didn’t.

All our authorities are rickety. All of them. The earthquake has not yet hit, but it is just a matter of time. And I think it is going to be a Big One.