Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

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Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.
"When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,"

Article continues:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725190044.htm

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HumanVuvuzela
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10 percent?

10 percent seems way too low. What happens if opposing ideas each comprise 40% of the study population (ie federal election results)? Why isn't Australia's Carbon Tax now a sure thing, given that a whopping 30% of Australians think it's a good idea? Also, the statement that 10% is sufficient for that belief to 'always' be adopted seems a little over-the-top. Reading the article, it seems to me that the model the researchers used is a little simplistic. 

 

Article wrote:

"In general, people do not like to have an unpopular opinion and are always seeking to try locally to come to consensus. We set up this dynamic in each of our models," said SCNARC Research Associate and corresponding paper author Sameet Sreenivasan. To accomplish this, each of the individuals in the models "talked" to each other about their opinion. If the listener held the same opinions as the speaker, it reinforced the listener's belief. If the opinion was different, the listener considered it and moved on to talk to another person. If that person also held this new belief, the listener then adopted that belief.

 

"As agents of change start to convince more and more people, the situation begins to change," Sreenivasan said. "People begin to question their own views at first and then completely adopt the new view to spread it even further. If the true believers just influenced their neighbors, that wouldn't change anything within the larger system, as we saw with percentages less than 10."

What impact do the 90% of people who DON'T hold those unshakeable beliefs have on others who don't hold those beliefs when they talk? Does one person talking to another, and then having their thoughts confirmed by a third person mean that their DISBELIEF is confirmed in an unshakeable fashion? Is this confirmation of opinion consistent with what's seen in the real world?

It seems to me this article could even be a thought experiment to see how quickly the belief that 'only 10% of people are needed to spread a belief through a population' spreads through the population... Smiling


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I don't know, this seems to be overly simplistic. For example, they did mention democrats vs republicans. Well, thanks to archiving of public opinion polls, we have many decades of statistics on presidential approval ratings. They are easy enough to google.

 

In all honesty, those statistics do not say as much as the news hounds and bloggers would like the rest of us to believe. Most president's spend most of their time hovering around the 50:50 point with outliers at 70:30 and 30:70.

 

So right there, the idea of 10% being the magic number really does not hold up. Perhaps if you set the model up so that 90% are uncommitted but can be swayed when the 10% point is reached, then that might be worth looking at further but it does not hold up well against real world data.

 

Dubya actually provides a good example here. Every time that he dropped to 49% or a bit lower, people went nuts on the idea that “more people don't like him than do”. But even if so, what does that number inform us on as far as national policy?

 

Sure, the guy was a twat waffle but he was also one of the few that broke the outliers for high ratings as well. If memory serves, he broke the 80:20 barrier for serving Thanksgiving dinner to the troops in 2002. That an I think he blew through the 90:10 barrier for standing on the wreckage of the WTC with a megaphone inspiring the search and rescue efforts.

 

Not that those number even sow much beyond the effect of being a huge attention whore. Either that or he went from having such a cloud over his presidency that there was never really an expectation of him amounting to anything to frittering away a chance to be the next Napoleon Bonaparte.

 

Personally, I am going with twat waffle media whore and the study was too flawed too tell us anything useful.

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The more I think of it, the

The more I think of it, the worse the study model seems. It appears to have no relevance to the 'real world'. Using Dawkins' seven-stage belief model (but not just for religion - for any belief), it appears the model suggests that 1s can convert any of the 2s to 7s to 1s, all by 'having a conversation'. Let's compare that to reality.

As per Dawkins, assume 1 is a theist convinced god exists, and 7 is an atheist convinced god doesn't exist. Using this model, all it would take would be consecutive conversations with two 1s for the 7 to become a 1, ie for a convinced atheist to become a convinced theist. I think this is rubbish. I've been reading posts on this site for a few months now, and I am still to see any argument from theists (1s) that could move me from my 6.9.  

Equally, I haven't seen any arguments where strong 1s have been converted to 7s. Even though these arguments are stronger, and supported by evidence, there is a distinct reluctance from people to change their strongly-held views. Indeed, the more strongly held the beliefs (unshakeable), the less likely people appear to be to change their viewpoints, even in the face of damning evidence. I don't think that two consecutive conversations is going to change much (although the jehovah's witnesses will keep trying...). 

The model may be slightly more relevant in a population where most people are indifferent to the argument being made, or don't have strong views either way (ie 4s). People may be more willing to support an idea that is argued well in the absence of an alternative viewpoint, but even then, I doubt that they would quickly move to 'unshakeable belief'. The model doesn't take into account other factors external to the argument itself (eg in the case of religious belief, the beliefs of the target's family and friends or the target's education). The model doesn't even take into account the possibility that a 7 (with his 'unshakeable belief') could convert a 1 to a 7 (ie the reverse process). 

As I see it, this is an interesting theoretical study of a one-dimensional argument in a one-dimensional population that is not attuned to the real world. I don't think it really tells us anything. 

 


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The findings are bogus.Bush

The findings are bogus.

Bush got elected for a second term...


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redneF wrote:
The findings are bogus.

Bush got elected for a second term...


 


Right. After the election, I was not expecting more from him than I would have from POTUS Rutherford B. Hays.


 

The only reason he ever amounted to anything was that he got the biggest ball of crap dropped on him since Pearl Harbor.


 

2004, you had to choose between a douche bag or a douche nozzle. Personally, I voted for the douche nozzle because it looked like he was in charge of congress and he might get some actual work done. Wow! Did I miss on that one or something?

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I don't know what their

I don't know what their methodology is.

There are 7 billion people on this planet, and every label is a minority somewhere in the world, so if we go by their "tipping point" claim, then all labels will end up on top eventually.

I think what happens is simple human behavior. A given society may have social norms, but if there is a climate of disruption in resources or a perception that the powers that be are inept or corrupt, the majority may turn to something else as a possible solution.

It is a simple rise and decline and has always happened in our species history. It is more a collective evolution in seeking variety. If something seems to not work any more, society will turn to something else.

I think it is social psychology in or basic pattern seeking going on here, not anything about "tipping points".

I think once you skip all the labels, what is really going on in our species history is a drive to seek resources, even if that is mere power and control. And there is absolutely no society that will last forever so even if I bought this study, the truth would still remain that eventually, if that 10% became the 90% that would change into even something else.

 

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Vastet
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You guys aren't reading it

You guys aren't reading it thoroughly. It's 10% when there are no competing or polarised subject matter. Further studies will be done to see what effect those things have, and what the threshold is under those circumstances.

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 In other words, we just

 In other words, we just need 10% of the population to be unshakably atheistic and convince the rest that they don't really know anything for sure.

Then they'll eventually come around to our way of thinking and there won't be any more serious talk about crap people really have no idea about and government policies dictated by inflexible ideas that were outdated even when they were conceived.

Awesome.