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There is a collective consciousness that can detect the presence (and approach) of something good or bad, in society or the world, before any hard "evidence" exists. It's happening now with the concept of "rape culture." Which, by the way, isn't a concept. It's a reality.
I pity Nick Madson because he was oblivious enough to do a famous Patton Oswalt bit, verbatim, at a recorded show, and now the entire comedy world wants to beat the living crap out of him. Sucks to be him.