Wednesday, June 13

Did Justin Trudeau just hear the sound of an approaching "preference cascade"?

As y'all know, Justin Trudeau is the prime minister of Canada.  His father, Pierre, was also PM.  Justin, like his dad, is thoroughly left/liberal.

Now, like all good leftists Justin is always looking to improve relations with evil totalitarian regimes, like Iran.  By contrast, Conservative members of Canada's parliament think rewarding the ghastly mullahs with better relations sends a really, really bad signal ("If you do ghastly things we'll kiss your feet."), so awhile ago they introduced a bill to block the Canadian government from seeking to restore diplomatic relations.

Not surprisingly, Justin Trudeau opposed the Conservative bill, and it was defeated.

Surprisingly, the Conservatives just re-introduced virtually the same bill, directing the government to immediately cease talks with the Iran to restore diplomatic relations, and to add the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which runs Iran’s economy, to Canada’s list of terrorist groups.

More surprisingly, this time Liberal members of parliament supported it.

And in a trifecta of surprises, this time Justin Trudeau himself stood up to support the bill.  Then the whole Liberal cabinet--followed by many liberal MP's--stood up to vote for the Conservative motion.

If you're a student of human behavior you probably recognize what that was:  It's a classic demonstration of a thing called the Bandwagon Effect:  If people perceive that the "cool kids" are doing X, they want to get on-board.  Cuz not surprisingly, they wanna be cool too.

Yeah, not a shocker, but it's interesting that this is a long-recognized behavior pattern.

And it gets better.

The Bandwagon Effect triggers a second pattern of behavior, this one only formally named about 15 years ago.  It's called a "preference cascade:"  When the first one or two "cool kids" jump on the bandwagon, their moves prompt another dozen or so to join--and each of those new joiners prompt another dozen or so.  The result is a chain-reaction.

It's like a couple of tiny snowballs scurrying down a snow-covered slope just before the avalanche.

Now, does this have any significance beyond Canadian politics?

Almost certainly.  Consider that Trudeau's stunning support of a bill he had opposed just a couple of months earlier wasn't done on a whim, but probably because he saw which way the winds were starting to blow.  He has to have known that completely reversing course in a couple of months would prompt liberal papers to lampoon him, and yet he did it anyway.

Hmmmm.... Could it be that young Justin heard the sound of a "preference cascade" coming?


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