Math Proves It: Hipsters All Look the Same

Photograph by Alys Tomlinson/Getty Images

Jonathan Touboul is a mathematician at the College de France who models the behavior of neurons in the human brain, but he recently became curious about a topic outside his area of expertise: hipsters, and why they all look alike. If the ethos of the hipster is to reject the mindless conformity of the mainstream, why do so many of them make the same aesthetic choices, from the clunky glasses to the skinny jeans to the work boots and fixed-gear bicycles? Or, as he puts it in his new, as-yet-unpublished paper (PDF), “The hipster effect is this non-concerted emergent collective phenomenon of looking alike trying to look different.”

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