An inflexible minority only has to reach a small percentage of the total population for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences. Nassim Taleb calls this the dictatorship of the intolerant minority.
This phenomenon caught my attention because the choices and preferences of a population always seem to be those of the majority, yet they mostly are not.
- When one person in a family of five is lactose intolerant, and the other four aren’t, odds are all of them eat dairy free meals.
- When nine persons in a 10 person business meeting in Germany speak both German and English and one person only speaks English, odds are the meeting will be in English.
- When at a party 4 out of 20 guests only drink wine, and the rest doesn’t care to drink wine or beer, you can get away with only serving wine.
This happens time after time because the minority is the most intolerant and the silent majority eventually nods and agrees.
Renormalization (dictatorship of the intolerant minority) pic.twitter.com/MQWfnvsVeI
— Gijs Heerkens | Traveling internet entrepreneur (@gijsheerkens) December 24, 2020
We can broaden these three examples to the next level (called renormalization), like displayed in the tweet above.
Each box contains four smaller boxes. Each one of the four boxes will contain four boxes, all the way down, and all the way up until the next level. Yellow is the majority, pink the minority.
Let’s look at what will happen at the German company:
- When those 10 persons communicate their meeting results to another department, odds are it will be in English.
- When all departments get together for a company barbecue, odds are everyone will speak in English.
- When any employee of the company communicates with a client, odds are it will be in English.
- That’s already three levels (meeting, departments, company, clients). Remember that this all started because a single person didn’t speak German.
This is also how things that don’t make sense if you think about it properly, like veganism (actually worse for health, worse for the planet), feminism (actually worse for women, worse for society) are being imposed to everyone by a small number of people.
Most persons in a population are passive and don’t really care, or don’t care enough to request a change. The inflexible minority knows this, hence always gets what it wants.
Virtue signaling also plays an important role in this, most people like to show how good they are.
Society doesn’t evolve by consensus, voting or majority, only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle.