Three hundred million
The United States recently passed the 300 million people mark for population. I didn’t really think much of it last week.
A few minutes ago a thought struck me with great force:
Suppose some crazy, ridiculous, clearly nutjob idea was believed by only 0.01% of the United States population. That’s thirty thousand people. The same percentage of the world population believing it means about six hundred and fifty-five thousand nutjobs!
In the “old days” before the Internet and TV, a reasonably even geographic distribution of potential nutjobs meant that distance would usually prevent a critical mass of nutjobs from assembling and doing anything too ridiculous. There was still plenty of crazy bad — but it was a longer path from “lone nutjob” to “movement with thousands of people or more.”
What if the Internet’s potential for connected geographically separated 0.01% nutjob idea believers to and enable them to both communicate to reinforce their nutjob ideas and find each other to form huge mobs? (Though many of them will be babies, children, or old.) Fortunately, most crazy, nutjob ideas are harmless to the rest of the population and their believers are not prone to forming angry mobs or seizing control of the government. This is not true for allnutjob ideas, though.
(I may have to give up on Windows Live Writer. I like it, but I really don’t like that whatever it’s doing triggers the fan on my video card to come on as if I was playing an intense 3D game.)