Imagining the Tipping Point: How will Integral memes show up in popular culture?


By the way, following up on my comment earlier about many cities and states being pulled too far to the Left on economic issues, there was an article about this in today’s Wall Street Journal. Here is an excerpt:

"Many cities and states can no longer afford the unsustainable retirement promises made to millions of public workers over many years. By one estimate they are short $5 trillion, an amount that is roughly equal to the output of the world’s third-largest economy.

"Certain pension funds face the prospect of insolvency unless governments increase taxes, divert funds or persuade workers to relinquish money they are owed. It is increasingly likely that retirees, as well as new workers, will be forced to take deeper benefit cuts. . . .

"When times were flush, politicians made overly generous promises. Public-employee unions made unrealistic demands. High-profile municipal employees, such as coaches at public universities, have drawn fire for what some consider too-rich retirement benefits, while some first responders scored rich early retirement and disability arrangements. . . .

"State and local pension plans in the U.S. now have less than three- quarters of the money they need to meet their promised payouts, their lowest level since at least 2001, according to Public Plans Database figures weighted by plan size. In dollar terms the hole for state and local pensions is now $5 trillion, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Another estimate of unfunded state pension liabilities, from Pew, is $1.4 trillion. . . .

“There are few easy solutions. Cities and states can either raise taxes, cut services or become more aggressive about reducing benefits to retirees. For many years governments were unwilling to take these steps because they weren’t politically palatable, although public appetite to cut public-employee benefits is emerging, in states including Wisconsin. Many governments opted to change benefits for new employees, which in some cases didn’t fully alleviate funding woes.”


Great statement, David, do you recall it’s source?


Hi, kocrawford (Kahlil?).

He says that in an endnote of Boomeritis:

“The Millennials are now hitting adolescence and early college years. Again, we are speaking generalities and stereotypes here, but unlike the Xers, the Millennials don’t want to slack the system, but succeed in it. They don’t particularly chafe against the rules, don’t totally yawn in the face of their parents, appear more generally happy with society and are ready to accelerate in it, and tend to trust the system, more or less.” (p. 131)

He also talks about the generations in the text of Boomeritis, such as here:


I never realized at the time that Boomeritis, far and away Ken’s most poorly-written book (purposely so, of course), would become one of his most important. I feel like it’s the red-headed stepchild of his work (no offense to any gingers from remarried families out there…) but probably a book we should all pick up again now that we are waist-deep in aperspectival madness.


…and those Sidebars were freaking amazing! “Who Ate Captain Cook”, anyone?

I need to dig those Sidebars out, maybe edit out all of the fiction elements, and get those republished.


I agree, Corey. I think it’s a really important book.

I believe Ken said he originally wrote it as non-fiction but decided not to publish it because it was too polemical, and then he re-wrote it in the fictional form that we have now.

Is there any chance of releasing the original non-fiction form? I would love to see that!

Also, I found that he discussed the generational issue in an interview with Shambhala as well.

Who Ate Captain Cook? is one of my all-time favorites! I love that one as well.

I have also contemplated editing out the fictional parts, as people could get the information more quickly without them, though the fictional parts can be amusing.


It’s funny, I put a cleaned-up version of a quote from one of the sidebars on Facebook (from “The Deconstruction of the World Trade Center”) and one of the very first comments was from someone who noticed that Ken’s corny “duck-billed platitude” joke had been scrubbed from the text. :wink:


Yes, Kahlil. Thanks, David.


I think the Tipping Point is much further than the 10% that has been seen with previous stages. It has to do with the increased tolerance of second tier consciousness.

N. N. Taleb explains the power of the intolerant minority in this chapter from one of his books

As second tier can symphatize with and make use of the previous levels, they don’t necessarily have to enforce their surroundings to match their worldviews.


After reading the article you cited, oskarmatvere, I can see how you arrived at your speculation.

Since Taleb’s probability comments applied mainly to the marketplace (kosher drinks, non-GMO foods), do you think there’s any difference given that the Integral framework is not a commodity in the same sense as foods? I realize he did speak also of languages, one language taking precedence over another in some surprising ways throughout the world, but I don’t remember him specifically applying the 3-5% “intolerant minority” to that.


What if we created an online system for generating empirical research through people sharing polls on social media? It seems like Libertarians have used a similar method to popularize Libertarianism with their political compass test.

Maybe we could encourage Integral practitioners to send out periodic polls to their social network so we can collect evidence about where the population is along various lines of development?


@jasoncstone That is a wonderful idea. I have been trying to make such polls to not only collect data, but also be covertly transformative. Transformative polling, if you will - a kind of 2nd tier “slight of hand” that subtly nudges people along the spiral by getting people to critically reflect on their underlying values and identity, all in a harmless, gentle fashion (I’m just a neutral poller!). If nothing else, it would collect helpful data. And in my experience, people love participating!

I think it would be fun to “infiltrate” certain groups that correlate with a stage, not only to appreciate firsthand the values and perspectives of that stage, but to also poll the populace to see how transformation could be leveraged. On my list is a small church in the country (amber) and a class in Portland on white privilege (green). Maybe later a boxing gym in the inner city (red) and local classes on small business and entrepreneurship (orange). The question is, what questions should we ask?


Yeah, hopefully it is not further away, but I wanted to point out the distinction between first and second tier, which seems to have favored first tier tipping points in the past.

Maybe there is something that balances it out through increased creativity or decreased fear or something else that can arise at second tier.


@HawaiianRyan My intuition is to go to scientist that study the developmental models we use as the basis for our lines of development and ask them what questions they’ve used in their empirical studies. Ideally, they could design the set of questions for us.


While IT doesn’t have to force its worldviews on its surroundings, as you say, it does have to infiltrate, so to speak, and increased creativity and decreased fear seem useful to that. I think it’s an interesting point you make, that the 10% needed to reach a tipping point has applied to 1st tier, so we really don’t know for sure if it will apply at 2nd tier.

So if/when Integral is at the 10% of the population point, and there is no tipping point, then that might be a black swan event in the integral community, except for the fact you have (sort of) predicted there may be no tipping point then, so perhaps it wouldn’t be after all :slightly_smiling_face:


Like @jasoncstone mentioned you could use some of the techniques that the developmental scientists use… such as sentence completions (Loevinger) for ego/self-identity (I’m not sure what measures Susanne Cook-Greuter uses) and the subject-object interview (Kegan) for consciousness complexity. The subject-object interview is a little more intensive and has a higher probability of showing your hand (the goal of transformation) before you intend to, but it could help with your techniques. I’ve read that the subject-object interview can be quite transformative for the interviewee. I use a simpler version that I developed intuitively, because I haven’t yet acquired the official text to learn the whole technique properly.

These might both be too intensive for your purposes, though. It depends on how deep and wide you want to go with your polling. :slight_smile: I’m so very interested to hear what you learn in your attempts.


Thanks so much, Coda. While I think the subject-object interview may be a bit lengthy for the average pollee, I believe its good to have a range of developmental assessment techniques in your toolbox, depending on how much time people have. Forgive me if I have missed it, but have you shared your intuitively developed simpler version somewhere? I’d sure love to see it! The official text sure is expensive :hushed:



I agree the SOI would be quite lengthy.

Oh eep! No I haven’t shared it on here. I haven’t ever written it down, because it never occurred to me that anyone else would find it useful. It’s more like something that I naturally started doing with the folks around me a decade or more before I discovered Kegan’s work (by googling my observations).

I read a fair bit of text from the official guide to the subject-object interview through google books online preview (you can get different parts to load by searching for different phrases - because yeah, it’s expensive! I can’t remember any of the phrases I used to find sections to read, as this was a several years ago… but there’s still a lot to read using the “look inside” feature on amazon), and saw that a lot of the recommendations and interpretations were similar, though more focused, to my own meandering methods, which weren’t very clear about assessing specific lines of development and more about trying to understand how the person operates as a whole (all of this was before I discovered Wilber’s framework last year, which helped me get better at the process, both in execution and interpretation). I also read a lot of the available research produced using the SOI, like this, which gives more clues about how to conduct a more structured SOI (see appendix B) and interpret it (the results section) and this. You might also have the option of visiting a local university or college, if they have the official text in their library.

I’ll think on it more over the next few days, but I think your methods for guiding someone into values transformation are very similar to my methods of assessing where their limitations are at. One of the differences for assessing consciousness (rather than values) is that you let the interviewee pick the content of the conversation and you ask questions to figure out where the limitations to their consciousness are (based on how they relay the content, rather than the content itself). So whatever their topic of choice, you express genuine curiosity about it (creating hypotheses about the underlying “why” and testing your hypotheses through questioning) until you reach their limitations (or your own). The focus with the subject-object interview is figuring out what parts they can’t see with objectivity because those parts are still subjective to them (without helping them move past their limitations), which isn’t quite the same thing as what I tend to do (which includes trying to help someone move past their current limitations, which can include listening, asking clarifying questions, and validating).

It’s easier to do with folks who are at a lower consciousness level than you are, so kids tend to be easiest to figure out if you can get them to engage with the process. Some people don’t like to be shown their growth edges though, especially if you push hard (or are less sensitive to reading the edge) or have any judgment, or if they have judgment of you or themselves.

It’s also entirely possible that I’ve misunderstood it completely.

I hope these resources can give you a better idea about how to incorporate aspects of this tool into your toolbox. Sorry, I don’t have something more straight forward (I didn’t mean to imply that I had any real answers in my previous post… I meant simpler as in less structured and less accurate, especially at higher levels), but it seems like it’s a complex process no matter what way you slice it, because humans (and consciousness) are so complex.

Forgot to include this resource also.


Again, thanks for all these links Coda! I read a lot of it and found it all very very interesting. I have yet to dive deeply into the work of Kegan so this was a great start!

Here’s my dilemma and why my method slightly differs from the SOI. Having been a part of 2 spiritual communities (a Zen Buddhist and Yogic one), I have found that SOI style assessments were not that helpful for determining one’s center of gravity, since many people were spiritual practitioners who meditated daily, and thus possessed very sophisticated phenomenological notions of self and identity. On top of that, they were trained to say the “spiritually correct” answer about self, relation to others, etc… (we’re all one, compassion for all beings, I’m just an expression of cosmic consciousness etc…) and thus at first glance, may give answers at a higher altitude than where they were really at (which I had a better sense of since I lived with them). Also, when talking about life changing events and other topics of their choosing (such as divorce), they would all be interpreted “spiritually” and elevated to transpersonal levels - a sort of pre/trans fallacy with life events.

So, given that I would only have about 5 minutes with the average person, I thought hard about what questions would indubitably cut to the core of their COG, and in my experience, questions of morality and the intensity of their moral sentiments provided the most accurate and expedient method.

One of my (former) friends, who is ostensibly always having mystical/transpersonal experiences, can give you the most florid, resplendent, magnanimous definitions of self, identity, and experience, filled with infinite light, love, compassion for all beings, etc… all articulated in the most lucid and perspicuous fashion. Yet, when it comes to moral development, he believes (no joke) that “all muslims should be killed, as they are incarnated from the planet mars and are thus on the wrong planet; killing them would send them home.” Of course, he believes this cause his Guru told him this, and also ardently supports Trump, believing his Guru is “working through Trump” and that “white women getting raped by Muslims is the biggest global problem.” Yikes.

Sorry if that was a bit intense, but the point is that if I had let him choose the topic SOI style, I would probably think he was an enlightened saint (back in my days of callow naivety, I did) but only through probing into moral reactions/situations could his true COG be unearthed. I could give more examples: An old timer at the Yogic community would describe his sense of self as intimately connected with all of life, flowing with consciousness in each moment, etc… but he believed that the biggest moral concern was young people having sex before getting married. Another old timer, also describing her self and life transitions in spiritually and phenomenologically rich language, felt that the cause of all problems in America are women in the workplace, as it “destabilized society” and that the “blacks have failed us” since they don’t vote. My Green PC self was cringing :rofl:

To put this in Integral terms, I believe that state development can be confused with stage development, and spiritual people may have high levels of state development, but obviously lower levels of stage/moral development - high in waking up but low in growing up. Interrogating one’s sense of self and identity may only elicit responses as it pertains to their states of consciousness, but may miss their actual stage altogether, since their identity may still be tied up with their state development, especially their highest and most spiritual state experience.

This is why I also love to ask “can you see and feel how a different perspective can be valid?” And then rate on a scale how much you can feel into the validity of a contrary moral sentiment. “You feel abortion is the worst thing ever, a -10, can you see how people can have a differing perspective; how one could value for a women’s right to choose and autonomy of her own body?” Or vice versa. A lot of these uber spiritual people have said “NO!” and said it was a “mental illness”, “crazy” or “evil.” And it went all ways. Sorry this was a bit long, but my point is that, given the uniqueness of my audience, asking about their subjective self sense SOI style did not always evince the most accurate portrayal of their COG. Maybe i’m doing it all wrong or all I know are weirdos (probably true) but thats just some of my underlying inspiration for developing a moral assessment rather than an identity assessment.


I really appreciate the detail that you’ve included in your response, it didn’t seem arduously long or anything, and I found the examples quite helpful in understanding to what you were referring.

There are definitely limitations to the SOI and any developmental measure, and the SOI is supposed to be at least an hour long interview. Only having 5 minutes is a severe limitation that might have a big influence on your results. I’d be wary of the precision of any results about development obtained in 5 minutes because there are so many developmental lines that influence each other and so many ways we humans have for lying to ourselves/others (that is not to say the results won’t be useful!).

How are you defining COG? Is it for political purposes (predicting how they understand and wield power)? Is it to inform effective communication? Is it to be able to predict behavior patterns and/or attitudes? What lead you to believe that morality would be most indicative of COG? Are you using a version of Kohlberg’s moral dilemmas? Or you said something about Haidt’s research in a different post?

I think it’s also important to remember that the SOI, values, and morality questions are different lines of development that don’t necessarily mature at the same rate.

In my experience, folks’ growth can be restricted by one or more developmental lines simultaneously and predictions of behaviors and attitudes are more accurate when you have a detailed assessment of which developmental line(s) are the limiting one(s). Assessing along a single line will only get you so far. I think @jasoncstone 's suggestion was about creating a series of polls which assess different lines of development, which might be more helpful in gathering data about the population (which is not necessarily your intended purpose, correct?).

In general, I’ve found that self-identity (ego) development is usually indicative of COG (predicting attitudes and behaviors), simply because it is the primary lens through which all experience is filtered. Of course, consciousness development is a close second because it’s the meaning-making system that directs the programming (directions for future behaviors) that ensues post-experience. I believe values and morality inform the programming process, but it appears to me that which level of values depends on the ego’s and consciousness’s interpretation of the situation and thus can change levels more readily depending on the situation and the person’s life experiences (less consistent).

You make a really good point about spiritual bypassing (I think that’s what you’ve described here?). I tend to assess folks who I’ve been able to observe for some time, which helps me call BS on the descriptions of states rather than a stage. I think it’s also helpful when you have a person describe a real world experience, including not just their internal experience (how they felt - emotions are a huge clue, what they thought, etc.), but the behaviors they chose to enact. Behaviors + emotions are often very illuminating of the subconscious programming, and I think that might be an essential difference between a state experience and development into a stage. How much programming into their subconscious has this person done? What’s the programming’s main purpose (which developmental line does it serve? at what level does it appear? does it encourage growth or stability?)? Based on their description of their internal experience and the behaviors enacted, does their assessment of their experience make sense (are the conclusions consistent with the evidence)? Are the answers to these questions consistent across different contexts?

I wonder what sort of answers you might get if you asked the folks who say all the “spiritually correct” things something like: “What is your greatest strength?” followed by “What is your greatest weakness?” then some questions about their development process, like “How did you develop your strength? How have you compensated for your weakness? Has your strength changed over time? Has your weakness changed over time? How?”

I wonder if you asked a person why they thought it was “mental illness”, “crazy”, or “evil”, what sort of answers would/do you get?

I think it’s also important to listen to the underlying message with greater weight than the words used. (Not that I think you aren’t doing this, just that it sometimes creeps in without our noticing when our green PC self is in the driver’s seat.) If someone gives a simplified tribal example, you could inquire into how they reached that conclusion (what evidence they have, what reasoning they are using, what perspective is being taken to decide, etc.) and that could give more information about their developmental levels (along lines of: cognition, values, ego, consciousness, and morality, potentially).

For a laugh (and to break up the intensity of all these questions), Patton Oswalt gives a fun example of not getting hung up on language (which I interpret as a call to green values to keep growing - an example of culture growing towards integral perhaps?):

I’ve actually experienced the opposite of what you have described (at least my understanding of it) on quite a few occasions. Where some people espouse values (and corresponding morality) and have all the right value answers, but are unable to fully enact those values due to limitations in consciousness and self-identity. I believe this is what is described by the “Mean Green Meme”, where folks vehemently defend green values without being able to see the limitations or how well they may or may not be enacting them (often reverting to tribal attitudes and behaviors). I’ve seen such inconsistencies with orange and blue values as well.

An example: someone who says they value growth and personal development (as well as “equality, tolerance, diversity, respect, kindness”) and who is trying to create a new (intentional) community replies to my earnest attempts at clarifying a misunderstanding and seeking understanding of where the communication went awry, with defensiveness, criticism, and contempt (in the form of sarcasm)… rather than answer my simple questions/request for active listening feedback. They asserted that I was an intellectual elitist and devaluing their intellectual abilities based on their preference to avoid defining their self or ideal culture. They also asserted dominance over my self-expression (“I have attempted to allow for your… [peculiar form of communication]”) and mimicked/mocked my previous word choices and sentence structures, which I interpreted as indicative of an opportunist ego state in the driver’s seat. (I had asked about their ideal culture via attitudes, beliefs, values, norms, rules, taboos, laws, and world view and when they refused to answer suggesting it was inconsequential, I suggested that it might potentially create conflict if the culture of the community isn’t well understood before everyone invests financially in it. This was over the course of several emails, which I thought were very cordial until I received the aggressive feedback.)

[I’ve had folks verbally devalue me (mocking, contempt, sarcasm, criticism, inaccurate and devalued descriptions of my self, intentions, or cognitive abilities, etc.) or become defensive (offer out of context explanations, ignore the question, insinuate blame, deny previous actions, etc.) because the questions I asked (when trying to understand the person a bit better) challenged (or insulted) their ego or consciousness (sometimes their ego is wrapped up in their knowledge that I may have asked them to explain a bit more fully in my attempt to understand their perspective.). This has happened at least 3 times in the last two months, even here on IL, and I haven’t even had much social contact with a lot of folks since becoming ill a few months ago. It happens a lot less now than it did when I was younger. I’m always refining my approach, but I think the main mechanism at play might be my atypical neurology (my limitations in understanding others accurately without a questioning process… and a tendency to focus awareness on deeper levels of functioning, rather than the superficial curated version of self that’s often projected to the world) which requires folks to step outside their own perspective slightly in order to communicate effectively and be open to authenticity, which many folks seem to be uncomfortable with, unless they’ve grown up enough to have a firm sense of internal boundaries/self.]

Sorry this reply has gotten so unwieldy. I’m struggling to figure out which parts could be edited out while still creating a clear enough communication that touches on all the relevant aspects (the limitations to measures, potential followup questions, clarifying the purpose and assumptions of the polls, mechanisms of developmental lines pertaining to predicting attitudes and behaviors, recognizing/seeing through spiritual bypassing, investigating tribal memes, how values can mask ego+consciousness limitations, my own limitations to my perspective).

Anywho, I think you’re undertaking some difficult but important work. I’d be interested in answering your polling questions via PM and in answering any additional feedback or follow-up questions you might want to ask to help calibrate your measures, if you think that might be helpful. :smile: I would also try out administering the poll to my circle of influence and reporting on the results and its alignment with my previous assessments (when applicable). Or any other ways in which folks from the IL community (like myself) might be of assistance?