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Groupthink or Connoisseurs' Consensus?

post #1 of 440
Thread Starter 
The recent trainwreck on AAAC got me thinking.

"Groupthink" is often criticized here, and more often cited elsewhere as evidence of our derangement.

It is true, at least partially, that some things get a lot of love here while others are almost universally derided. But is that "groupthink" necessarily?

Since I have been enjoying cooking analogies lately, I will continue with one. Gather 10 or 100 foodies in a room. Chances are 90% or more of them -- probably close to all of them -- are going to love foie gras. Is that "groupthink"? Or is there something inherent in the subject matter that leads a refined palate in that direction?

As soon as one uses a phrase like "refined palate" one is out on a limb. What is "refined"? Who decides? Who excludes? Who is excluded? Where is the line?

It is not easy to answer those questions. But it is conversely too easy to say "'Refined' has no meaning, it is all in the eye (or palate) of the beholder."

Are there sartorial conventions/ratios/proportions/colors/patterns/shapes/textures/combinations, etc. that are somehow inherently more pleasing than others? Do the most sartorially inclined tend to gravitate toward those things? This is not to say that tastes at the top must be identical, or that the best dressed will inevitably all look alike. That is a silly strawman -- one I expect to see repeated, probably in this thread and certainly elsewhere.

It is to ask, is there a common vocabulary that is hierarchical in nature? The same way that a bunch of restaurant critics might disagree as to their absolute favorite, and disagree violently as to the merits of this or that restaurant -- but tell them to produce a list of the 100 best, and rank them, and chances are those lists are going to look a lot alike.
post #2 of 440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
The recent trainwreck on AAAC got me thinking.

"Groupthink" is often criticized here, and more often cited elsewhere as evidence of our derangement.

It is true, at least partially, that some things get a lot of love here while others are almost universally derided. But is that "groupthink" necessarily?

Since I have been enjoying cooking analogies lately, I will continue with one. Gather 10 or 100 foodies in a room. Chances are 90% or more of them -- probably close to all of them -- are going to love foie gras. Is that "groupthink"? Or is there something inherent in the subject matter that leads a refined palate in that direction?

As soon as one uses a phrase like "refined palate" one is out on a limb. What is "refined"? Who decides? Who excludes? Who is excluded? Where is the line?

It is not easy to answer those questions. But it is conversely too easy to say "'Refined' has no meaning, it is all in the eye (or palate) of the beholder."

Are there sartorial conventions/ratios/proportions/colors/patterns/shapes/textures/combinations, etc. that are somehow inherently more pleasing than others? Do the most sartorially inclined tend to gravitate toward those things? This is not to say that tastes at the top must be identical, or that the best dressed will inevitably all look alike. That is a silly strawman -- one I expect to see repeated, probably in this thread and certainly elsewhere.

It is to ask, is there a common vocabulary that is hierarchical in nature? The same way that a bunch of restaurant critics might disagree as to their absolute favorite, and disagree violently as to the merits of this or that restaurant -- but tell them to produce a list of the 100 best, and rank them, and chances are those lists are going to look a lot alike.
Groupthink would be if some foodie version of Manton said, "Foie gras and spalla foiegrasica are the best things in the world," and the other foodies adopted that viewpoint without personal experience or critical thinking.

But most normal people couldn't tell the difference between foie gras and cat food. 95% of most men wouldn't touch foie gras. I for one eat cat food from JC Penney and anyone who denies it's just as good as foie gras is a snob.
post #3 of 440
I had foie gras and catfood the other night. Cats eat tuna, right?
post #4 of 440
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post
I had foie gras and catfood the other night. Cats eat tuna, right?

The late RJ cat enjoyed tuna almost as much as lobster.
post #5 of 440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
The same way that a bunch of restaurant critics might disagree as to their absolute favorite, and disagree violently as to the merits of this or that restaurant -- but tell them to produce a list of the 100 best, and rank them, and chances are those lists are going to look a lot alike.

Is this the kind of list where Le Bernadin often appears near the top?


- B
post #6 of 440
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJmanbearpig View Post
The late RJ cat enjoyed tuna almost as much as lobster.
Did you chop it in a high end burr grinder for him?
post #7 of 440
What I posted there:
Quote:
It is worth reminding people, as you did, that this site has an owner and a bunch of moderators. They are all well aware of the departure of many members and what remains behind. Apart from some sad attempts by medwards to stimulate substantive discussion, they have chosen to leave the site exactly as it is.

Presumably, the current incarnation of AAAC is perfectly fine with Andy and whoever else now runs the place. Certainly, the stuff Andy has been getting and lauding is more likely of interest to Cruiser and his ilk than to the bespoke crowd. Is it worthwhile for Gino's Tailor to be promoted here if the audience wants to talk about high-end bespoke? Why should the forum cater to a group that isn't the target audience of the advertisers and the promoters? When manton starts buying from Fredricks or Charles Tyrwhitt, then maybe it will be more important to have a manton friendly site. In the meantime, the dominant voices have won out. And there is really no harm done. If manton wants to post, he has Styleforum (or the LL). If you find what he writes interesting, go there and read it. If not, stay here and post about what is of interest here. I liked AAAC, but we don't need a Landmarks Preservation Society to preserve it in amber if its owners want to let it go somewhere else.
It is not a direct response to your post, but explains why there is more at work than just groupthink.
post #8 of 440
I am not going to weigh in on this.
post #9 of 440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
The recent trainwreck on AAAC got me thinking.


Well I've missed that. I'm a semi-regular there so what thread(s) should I read for the implosion?
post #10 of 440
I think it's a bit of both, hopefully more of the latter than the former.
post #11 of 440
but aren't we susceptible to a "herding" phenomenon whereby like-minded are the predominant pack congregating and thus more apt to have consensus on ideas/topics/thoughts? Isn't that why most of us have "flocked" here at SF or AAAC? Not wanting to be "odd men out" we are more inclined to naturally seek that meeting space and/or forum that comforts us in our similarities? "Group think" is a natural derivative of this occurance.
post #12 of 440
Thread Starter 
Can the snarky jerks whose IQs exceed 80 (you know who you are) please try to say something substantive?
post #13 of 440
I think for some people it's a weird man crush issue. If a couple of posters on here post, everyone loves what they wear. It's a bit like the Sartorialist - the people in the pictures can do no wrong. And then the folks with the man crushes start to emulate them, travel to the stores in foreign lands that their crush shops at. Perhaps after a while it becomes group think. It all starts with a weird man crush. I still don't get people on here talking about how they want black label suits and then they haven't even tried it on...that's purely group think.
post #14 of 440
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJmanbearpig View Post
Groupthink would be if some foodie version of Manton said, "Foie gras and spalla foiegrasica are the best things in the world," and the other foodies adopted that viewpoint without personal experience or critical thinking.

But most normal people couldn't tell the difference between foie gras and cat food. 95% of most men wouldn't touch foie gras. I for one eat cat food from JC Penney and anyone who denies it's just as good as foie gras is a snob.

I disagree that you have to have personal experience with something in order to be an enthusiast and have a great deal of knowledge thereof. Many car historians, for instance, who know more than anyone about the history of classic 1960s Ferraris, don't actually own one. I can know that a canvased jacket is nicer than a fused jacket without having to own a canvased jacket.
post #15 of 440
Quote:
Originally Posted by haganah View Post
I think for some people it's a weird man crush issue. If a couple of posters on here post, everyone loves what they wear. It's a bit like the Sartorialist - the people in the pictures can do no wrong. And then the folks with the man crushes start to emulate them, travel to the stores in foreign lands that their crush shops at. Perhaps after a while it becomes group think. It all starts with a weird man crush. I still don't get people on here talking about how they want black label suits and then they haven't even tried it on...that's purely group think.
The proper term, coined here I believe, is: "effect" As in: I is a cause. You, M, are an effect. If I had to guess, I would say grimslade deserves the credit.
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