Daniel Davies d_squared_2002 at
Wed May 23 10:05:22 PDT 2001

--- Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at> wrote: > At 03:53 PM 5/23/01 +0100, daniel d. wrote:
> Au contraire - flocks do not emerge spontaneously. Flocking is a highly
> institutionalized behaviour - shaped by norms, expectations, routines and
> precednets (aka "sunk cost"), power relations etc.

really? despite having grown up surrounded by sheep, I had not previously realised that they had such a complex inner life.

-- Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> wrote:
> Does that have something to do with "strange attractors"? What the
> hell is a strange attractor, anyway? Is it anything like sunspot
> equilibria?

I don't really know myself, which is why I was hoping that Barkley the Very Clever Indeed was lurking. The best I can do is that an attractor is a "very complicated mathematical thing"; a symbolic convention allowing you to manipulate what would otherwise be intractably huge calculations, and that "strange" is a complete misuse of language to make them sound interesting, rather like "charmed" quarks.

Attractors are only like sunspot equilibria in the sense that you need some exogenous shock to the system to get it moving before you can form the attractor (way out of my depth here). If my popscience understanding is reliable, they suggest that the reactions to small shocks are unpredictable, but tend to fall into patterns which are predictable.

hey, I dunno.


===== ... in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. -- Bertrand Russell

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