Outrage as Study Confirms Trendy “Hipsters” All Look Alike

READER JULIAN called my attention to this post on The Register, a post that could have come from The Onion, but it’s true.

The headline tells it all:

What happened is that a paper appeared on the AMS Journals website with a mathematical theory explaining why hipsters (or anything that behaves like hipsters [like the “trendies” and “lemmings” Dr, Pierce liked to talk about — Ed.]) tend to eventually resemble one another. The Register tells more:

At the end of February, MIT Technology Review emitted a pithy rundown of a 34-page research paper from maths-modelling boffins at Brandeis University in the US; the paper essentially posited that in a bid to make that all-important “countercultural statement”, hipsters can end up looking alike. For groovy models of how random acts by hipsters “undergo a phase transition into a synchronized state” — along with some knotty network equations — see here [PDF].

Accompanying the article was an edited stock image of a generic millennial chap in plaid shirt and standard-issue beanie, or “trendy winter attire”, as Getty put it.

. . .The MIT journal’s editor-in-chief, Gideon Lichfield, took to Twitter to tell a “cautionary tale” about what followed the article going live:

“We promptly got a furious email from a man who said he was the guy in the photo that ran with the story. He accused us of slandering him, presumably by implying he was a hipster, and of using the pic without his permission. (He wasn’t too complimentary about the story, either.)”

That hipster picture is below. The thing is that the photo was a stock picture from Getty and it wasn’t the complaining guy at all. By complaining, he’d proved the article’s point!

As I said, this story could have been in The Onion, and people would have laughed and assumed it was satirical. But it wasn’t, for life was imitating art (or, in this case, science).

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Source: Why Evolution is True

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