Social Mood Conference | Socionomics Foundation

By Chuck Thompson | Excerpted from the July 2018 Socionomist


The February 2016 issue of The Socionomist looked at Super Bowl 50, specifically when advertisers decided not to “push boundaries” by avoiding humor and sex. At the time, we noted that only in Hawaii did Super Bowl viewers see an ad about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the football-related brain injuries that appear to occur at all degrees of impact. NFL data showed that the incidence of concussions rose 58% during the regular season. With NFL preseason play just weeks away, the July 2018 issue takes an in-depth look at American football and the role that social mood has played in shaping the country’s attitude toward concussions. Following are excerpts from that issue:

Three Blows at Lows

Negative mood fuels the uncovering and outing of scandals, which the June 2002 Elliott Wave Theorist described as the “recognition of misdeeds, the outcry of recrimination and the public display of interest and outrage.” Within months of the October 2002, March 2009 and January 2016 lows in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, scandalous discoveries about football’s link to head injuries, or negative public awareness campaigns devoted to revealing those discoveries, emerged. (See Figure 1.) In the latter two cases, the National Football League succumbed to pressure, made historic admissions and, during the subsequent positive mood trend, took steps to compensate former players and reduce head-injury risk for current players. …

2002: The Search for the Truth Begins

Dr. Bennett Omalu was working as a medical examiner when he was asked to do an autopsy on Mike Webster, a former professional football player who died at the age of 50. Webster played center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He suffered from bizarre behavior and went from being a superstar to living in a truck. …

Omalu could have finished his assignment quickly. He already had a cause of death: heart attack. But he saw himself as an advocate for the dead, “charged with defending and speaking for those departed.”1 So, Omalu went to extreme lengths to solve the medical mystery before him. He received permission from his boss to conduct an intense investigation of Webster’s brain—a project he did at home for fear that his colleagues would think he was crazy. Time and time again he put tissue samples under his microscope, using up so many slides that he had to buy new ones himself. It was then that he discovered Webster’s problem: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), an incurable neurological disease linked to repeated head trauma.1 CTE involves clumps of a protein called “tau” that can strangle and kill brain cells.2

It was September 2002. The DJIA was in a 38% decline following the collapse of the technology bubble and would make its low for the bear market the following month. The NASDAQ had fallen by 75%. …

Had Omalu been able to publish his findings immediately, socionomics suggests the odds are good they would have prompted substantial outrage and concern. But the wheels of scientific publication can grind slowly. It would take three years before the journal Neurosurgery published Omalu and his colleagues’ paper, the first scholarly report on CTE in American football players.3 By that time, mood had turned positive, and society’s appetite for scandal was mostly satiated. …


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