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I thought, statistically speaking stock markets were inherently chaotic
systems, with rises and falls as much to do with statistical chance as
things like insider information or the rumour mill?
Yes, and the reason why is illustrated in passing in my latest JoM paper just out. Where you have a contagion-based system, the contagious person-to-person elements are always fighting a battle against the communal cultural elements. The result is a pseudo-random walk. Where cultural context breaks down, contagion can start to take over. However, contagion is fragile, and epidemics easily founder once the community is provided with objective information. This is why contagion is not likely to be very important in cultural processes, especially not in those where the contagion is objectively counter-productive. Those that maintain that it is, need to go away and do some real modelling of social systems instead of devising just-so stories with no quantititive foundation.
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