Why I Believe #GamerGate was a Black Swan

by Nick V. Flor (@ProfessorF)

[Note: It’s not my goal to go over the history of #GamerGate. That’s been summarized in numerous places. For my conservative friends, I recommend checking out this article by Adam Baldwin, and this primer by Mytheos Holt.]

The term Black Swan is from Nicholas Taleb’s book by the same name. He described a Black Swan as having three attributes:

“First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact (unlike the bird). Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.”

— Nicholas Taleb, “The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Incerto)

Recently, I had a discussion with a person on Twitter who claimed #GamerGate was not a Black Swan event. Now, my reasons for why it is take more than 140 characters, so here goes.

  1. You could not predict beforehand, the magnitude, the scope, and the duration of the activities associated with the hashtag. If you disagree, I’d like to see your proof that you could have predicted what happened after Adam Baldwin tweeted the hashtag along with the publishing of the 10 Gamers are Dead articles. Again, your proof would have to account for magnitude, scope, and duration. Black Swan attribute #1—check.
  2. The effects of #GamerGate were highly significant. I wouldn’t go as far as some SJWs who claimed #GamerGate was responsible for Trump. However, I will argue that #GamerGate opened the eyes of tens of thousands of people, who then via social media “red-pilled” the larger population about the biased, and in some cases blatantly dishonest, tactics of SJWs and the media during the election. (Also, several #GamerGate figures would play a prominent role in promoting Free Speech on campuses—but that’s another article!) Black Swan attribute #2—check.
  3. Finally, now that the hashtag has died down, many SJWs are using hindsight to explain it away with a variety of crazy theories. We all know what they are, and I won’t waste even one brain-cell thinking about how to write them up. Black Swan attribute #3—check.

So that’s my reasoning, in a nutshell. Feel free to disagree. I can see you arguing against its “high” significance (attribute #2), but I can’t believe anyone can convincingly say #GamerGate was predictable (attribute #1) except in hindsight, or if you invent false premises about #GamerGate.

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