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An Outbreak of Crazy in America

One could talk about the insanity of the government of the world's largest economy playing chicken, risking a fragile global almost-recovery from recession-depression, but most people already grasp that whatever is going on there does not make a whole lot of sense, and certainly isn't functional.  In the last couple of days, there has been a broader outbreak of crazy in America.  While a bit on the bizarre side on the face of it, it actually makes some sense if one knows how to look at it.

First, let's look at some of the things Americans are most interested in right now.  To do this we will look at some of the hottest search trends on Google.

On October 1, day one of the government shutdown, people were interested in sports teams, and two television shows, Breaking Bad and Once Upon a time.  On October 2, there was mild interest in the shutdown, sports, and breast cancer awareness.  On October 3, there was an array of interests including Rebel Wilson's comedy show and a twerking video by Rhianna.

Looking at all that, doesn't really tell you that much.  However, if you break it down into eight categories of moods, behaviors and perceptions (like the MoodCompass team does), it actually turns into useful information.  For example, on October 1, all of the top trends looked at together translated into a configuration one might call, "aggressively (recklessly) charging ahead."  By October 3 it had become, "Really, I'm not crazy."  These are examples of the American collective mood.  It's how as a society we are perceiving reality and behaving.  It is also how we might look to people outside of America.

Another interesting thing with collective mood.  It seems to show up in the whole world the society interacts with, not just in the people . What is also interesting, is that within a few weeks of a government crisis is some type of major disaster or episode of mass violence. Whether people are affecting their world, the world is affecting the people, or some outside force is affecting both is for philosophers to debate.  What the data shows is that there is some type of interaction or relationship.

For example, here are the stories in the news today (other than the government shutdown) that reflect this "Outbreak of Crazy:"

Official: Woman killed in DC chase was delusional, believed president .. A woman with a one year old in her car, rammed barriers outside the White House, led police on a chase, and was shot.  She believed President Obama was monitoring her and controlling her life.  Perhaps she was angry and wanted to ask him to stop, who knows?

Man sets himself on fire on Washington's National Mall A man doused himself with gasoline in Washington's National Mall, and set himself on fire.  Enough said.

Tropical Storm Karen Heads for Gulf, Record Snow in West ... "Crazy" weather, including blizzards in early October.

So, next time you hear the expression, "Crazy weather we're having," look in the news for some people experiencing their own storminess.  The people in the above stories were self-destructive.  Is the crazy weather we're having in the United States a reflection of the nationally self-destructive behavior in Washington?  Would a change in the behavior of our leadership result in less self-destructive people and perhaps even weather?  Hmmm.... makes one wonder.

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