(I am no doubt rediscovering something that has already been written before. Oh well.)
While reading Coming Apart I was inspired to coin this term for any sort of sudden culture shift that begins in one generation, is enjoyed (or not) by the second generation but whose course is reversed, and then returns to a normal state of affairs by the third generation. Hence such proverbs as “wealth never survives the third generation”. Because this is a Charles Murray book, I will only be talking about white Americans in the following examples.
The most illustrative example is self-reported rates of happy marriage among the upper class (indistinguishable from upper-middle in Murray’s analysis). In 1960, four in five uppers would report happy marriages, but this dove throughout the 70s, reaching a nadir in the 80s (two in three). As of 1990, the trend was reversed, and in 2010 happy marriage was back in vogue as if the Sexual Revolution had never happened. In summary, the Baby Boomers ruined marriage, Generation X enjoyed the worst of the trend (but they reversed it), and Millennial uppers are going to enjoy marriage as if it were still 1960.
That’s a “first-order” culture shift, as opposed to the longer-lasting shift we see in the lower class. The lower classes generally view marriage through a more conservative lens: they tend to be view marriage as a good thing, are more likely to be unhappy within marriage (two in three in 1960), and look down on adultery (even if they are more likely to commit it). Marriage rates and happiness seemed to be unaffected by the Sexual Revolution, but in retrospect they have merely taken longer to realize the effects. Beginning with a slight decline in marriage attitudes during the 60s and 70s, the declination has failed to correct itself, so that in 2010 only one in two lower class married people would report their marriage as happy. This is a major societal sea change, if only because there are so many more people in the lower class than the upper class. We expect, based somewhat on intuition, that if America were to survive until 2050 it would be well-mired in a Conservative Reformation of sorts. So this could be called a second-order culture shift, because it is caused by the first-order shift.
It seems like the upper class, which tends to set forth the cultural rules for everybody else, is prone to these quick, fashionable first-order shifts that somehow “yank” the greater mass of the nation from its resting state in one direction or the other. This dynamic seems to be metaphysical in nature, and probably planned. It seems unlikely that the white upper class suddenly unweaved its basic social bond (marriage) on a whim, or due to random emergent effects, or merely because it is fashionable. There are few historical precedents, usually coinciding with dying empires, because most of the time the marriage rate in the upper class is extremely steady. This sort of “yank” was a blip in the data, an unmistakable signal over the noise. I think it was the result of philosophy; and obviously, I’m of the opinion that somebody did it on purpose (perhaps a century or two prior).
This is part of the reason I distrust reason, although she was my first love- it is very easy to fool a self-consciously smart person through deceitful dialectic if you are sufficiently smarter (or better informed). People with higher IQs, those in the upper classes in particular, tend to fall for philosophical ploys much more readily because they trust their own intelligence. (Ex. A transdimensional superintelligence with 200 IQ can fool a 150-IQ philosopher more easily than the same philosopher can fool a 100-IQ laborer.) It only takes one tiny little mistake (or devious presumption) in the premises to send an entire philosophy off the rails. On the other hand, it takes a brute-force effort of mass rhetoric to change the lower class’s basic instincts through culture, which seems to be what has happened in the last half-century.
Dolorectic is a term coined by Vox Day in his fantasy epic “A Throne of Bones”, whose definition is parallel to rhetoric and dialectic. Dialectic roughly means “to instruct via reason”, rhetoric roughly means “to instruct via the emotions”, and dolorectic therefore means “to instruct via pain”, by means of Pavlovian conditioning. Given that 1st-order shifts correspond to dialectic and 2nd-order shifts correspond to rhetoric, I leave the obvious extension to 3rd-order shifts to the reader’s imagination.
By the way, I haven’t yet coined a term for the sort of “teaching through observation and intuition” that characterizes uber-thals (previously described), or the sort of “teaching through symbolic mysticism” that characterizes full melons (not described). I’m open to suggestions.
Edit: The uber-thal method would be better described as “framework transmission” or concept porn.