It took three percent of the people to change the course of a colony and win the American Revolution. Today, the people have devolved where 3.8 percent of the people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. This intolerant minority dictate how our children are taught in school, what constitutes a hate crime, how we use public restrooms and control television/movie content. Do you want to live in a country where the intolerant minority would sacrifice everything for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or submit to an intolerant homosexual deviant culture? For those who are curious, the Muslim population in the United States is 1.1 percent and growing quickly.
Nassim Taleb (author of The Black Swan)
The best example I know that gives insights into the functioning of a complex system is with the following situation. It suffices for an intransigent minority –a certain type of intransigent minorities –to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences. Further, an optical illusion comes with the dominance of the minority: a naive observer would be under the impression that the choices and preferences are those of the majority. If it seems absurd, it is because our scientific intuitions aren’t calibrated for that (fughedabout scientific and academic intuitions and snap judgments; they don’t work and your standard intellectualization fails with complex systems, though not your grandmothers’ wisdom).
The main idea behind complex systems is that the ensemble behaves in way not predicted by the components. The interactions matter more than the nature of the units. Studying individual ants will never (one can safely say never for most such situations), never give us an idea on how the ant colony operates. For that, one needs to understand an ant colony as an ant colony, no less, no more, not a collection of ants. This is called an “emergent” property of the whole, by which parts and whole differ because what matters is the interactions between such parts. And interactions can obey very simple rules. The rule we discuss in this chapter is the minority rule.
The minority rule will show us how it all it takes is a small number of intolerant virtuous people with skin in the game, in the form of courage, for society to function properly.