We had a dinner party at Thanksgiving and it was good. During the inevitable conversation, I asked if anyone was noticing any trends. “Waddya mean?”
Well, we all naturally see trends, patterns and exceptions. We may or may not see them accurately but we try to find patterns in things. It is natural. Scientists call it inferential scanning. We look. We see. We accumulate information. And then, when we have enough to work with, we try to order it. It is all done without thinking consciously. We just do it.
It is likely a prehistoric survival trait: “What is different here?” Even our dog alerts us to anything that is ‘out of the ordinary’. If we leave a tool out on the ground and he didn’t see us do it, he will bark at it the next day.“Hey, Dave! Hey Sal. Something is different here. Come look.” It is a form of pattern recognition. In effect, he is inferentially scanning to make sure things are all well and as they should be.
We all scan for thousands of things every day. If I ask you, ‘what do you think is the most common colour of a typical four-door sedan you would likely answer, “I have no idea.” But, if I asked you to ‘take a guess’, you would roll your eyes a bit and think a bit about nothing in particular and say some colour that jumped out for you. That is inferential scanning. You would KNOW that metallic burgundy is NOT the most common colour. Nor would it be lemon yellow or orange. You would quickly consider black, white, silver and so on and then choose an answer primarily to get me to stop bugging you.
But you’d have one. And, if someone else piped up, “I think it is metallic burgundy”, you’d even argue the point.
The interesting thing about inferential scanning is that we do it for everything. We do it for car colours, house colours, prices for eggs and cheese, the most common dog, hair styles, shoes, counter-tops and so on. Some people see trends faster than others but we all get it eventually.
It is also the way common idioms take off, eh?
So, what are you seeing these days?
“Unh….jeez….I dunno……like, ya mean what colour is my car? What trends do you see?”
Well, like everyone, I see political trends like more and more violent splinter groups. I see protests like Occupy and Idle No More and the Hong Kong Umbrella protest. I see more draconian government. I see more use of smartphones. More social media. But that is all common stuff. I think if I am looking harder, I might suggest that we are looking at a growing dissatisfaction with our institutions like education and health as well as police and government. Hell, we don’t even vote! But most of all I see a trend towards inequality and I don’t think that inequality is just defined in economic terms. I think our social structure is fracturing along many separate lines.
I guess I think I am seeing a trend toward anarchy. I guess I am seeing more force and that means more resistance. The more force we use to homogenize, the more resistance is encountered. People are quietly resisting……
“Quietly resisting what?”
I don’t know. My scanners are not clear. I just see and feel a quiet but growing buildup of resistance to the status quo…ya know…?
“No. No idea what you are talking about. Pass the cranberry sauce.”
PS: “White especially has been a constant top runner since really 1998,” says Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager. “Silver had its reign from 2001 to 2006 as being the leading color and now black has come up as being the leading color in certain segments, especially luxury.”