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Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas 283

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-heard-that-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "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. '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,' said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski. 'Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.' The findings were published in the July 22, 2011, early online edition of the journal Physical Review E."
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Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

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  • by suso (153703) * on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:24AM (#36883298) Homepage Journal

    This is bullshit and I will never believe it.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      I agree. Magic power of 10 spotted. Why isn't it 9.8% or 11.3%?
    • by Bengie (1121981)

      you will once 10% of /. believes it

      • It's a contradiction, which explains /.'s comments section:

        Ideas that are shared between less than 10% cannot grow, and therefore they can logically never reach 10% (and will get modded down).
        And only ideas that are already shared between >10% will eventually be shared by all (will get modded up).

        We're stuck. Unless the results of this research aren't shared by more than 10% of the slashdotters, in which case we can safely ignore the results of the research.

        • RTFA, the point is that at least 10% must have an "unshakeable belief" to grow the idea to a majority. That means there will be at least one in ten who are committed to advocating the idea regardless of the consequences. The implication is that an idea will die even it 100% accept it but nobody has an unshakable belief in it. For example, at one point in the past, almost everyone believed the earth was flat. At some point, less than 10% remained faithful and more than 10% firmly believed the round earth
    • by Mikkeles (698461)

      So how does it get to 10%?

      • by tenco (773732) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:36AM (#36884494)
        Easy. Just make sure you choose the population size in which you want to spread your belief so that it's smaller than 10 x the magnitude of your followers. Once you've taken over, target a bigger population.
        • Or get a TV news program to show a bunch of people who say they believe it because the majority opinion of the people on tv will be considered to be the majority of people in reality.
      • by enjerth (892959)

        So how does it get to 10%?

        Well, I believe per the summary, it has to be initialized at 10% because if it starts off at 9.9% or less it will never progress.

    • I think these scientists are part of the conspiracy to make us believe in global warming and that Barack Obama was born in the US.
    • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:55AM (#36884776)

      I'm fairly sure that more than 10% of the population are atheists, and that similarly, more than 10% of the population are Christians... the two are diametrically opposed ideas, especially when you get to that core group that has the unshakeable belief that they have the one true answer to life, the universe, and everything....

  • "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

    If that were the case, no new ideas would ever take hold.

    • Maybe it has something to do with observation?

      If the first time you quantify an idea's market share it's below 9, you're screwed. Otherwise, I agree with you. How would you ever GET to 10% if 9.8% means nobody will ever care.

      • by Talderas (1212466) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:56AM (#36884786)

        You split populations into smaller subsets. Let's say you're the only person with an idea. You need to work with a population of 10 or fewer to be able to spread that idea. Anything larger than 10 will fail. So you converted the initial 10. You can now spread the idea through a population group of about 100, then 1,000, then 10,000, then 100,000, then 1,000,000 and so on.

        So if your group of 300 has a radical idea and you're slinging it out everywhere you can, you're probably going to fail dismally since you're targeting too large of a population.

      • by Bengie (1121981)

        " How would you ever GET to 10% if 9.8% means nobody will ever care."

        I think what they're saying, is the rate at which ideas exchange below 10% is abysmally low. So low, that if that same rate was applied to the entire population, it would take billions of years. But that rate changes once it gets past 10%. Once it hits 10%, it spreads fast.

        It could be 10% with in a given group.

        Say you have a small group of 20 really smart people (PHDs in a certain field). One person comes up with an idea and convinces his

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:36AM (#36883488)
      I guess they mean that of those idea that catch on, the point was at 10%. More than 10% Americans "believe" in evolution, but I don't see it spreading like wildfire. There are plenty of ideas that have greater than 10% marketshare, but don't spread. But I guess of those ideas that are now majority, and were once minority or non-existent, the point where they spread was 10%. Even still, call me skeptical.
      • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcvos (645701) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:12AM (#36884028)

        I guess they mean that of those idea that catch on, the point was at 10%. More than 10% Americans "believe" in evolution, but I don't see it spreading like wildfire.

        But it did, originally. Only now there's 10% believing in Intelligent Design, so you're screwed.

        • by asylumx (881307)
          From the article:

          The researchers are now looking for partners within the social sciences and other fields to compare their computational models to historical examples. They are also looking to study how the percentage might change when input into a model where the society is polarized. Instead of simply holding one traditional view, the society would instead hold two opposing viewpoints. An example of this polarization would be Democrat versus Republican.

          ID vs. Evolution is also quite obviously polarized

    • by PPH (736903)
      In Soviet Russia, ideas hold you!
    • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Interesting)

      The idea may only need to be held by a small segment of the population; for example, the scientists in a specialised sub-discipline(~hundred or so people), the major media commentariat in a particular country of locality(~few hundred people), the academics in a wider field, e.g. economics (~few thousand people), or perhaps the opinions in a small sized nation.

      I give you a good example: In Ireland (pop. ~4 million), the entire country went on a mad house buying binge, with the skeptics being ridiculed, ignored, or told by the nation's premier to go and commit suicide. Here's a retrospective blog post [wordpress.com] on the brazen insanity of those days. You'd kind of have to be from Ireland to get it all, but I think the Shamrock Island video explains itself.

      Now, if you added up the people during the Celtic Tiger Boom who worked in the financial, construction, and property sectors, you'd pretty comfortably reach 400,000 people; ~10% of the population. And I can assure you that most of these people were indeed true believers in the idea that property prices would continue to grow forever. For any that weren't, the slack was picked up by overpaid public sector workers with property fetishes and the usual talking heads in the media. Ireland is a small country, so it was relatively easy to reach a 10% level in many sectors.

      I stress that the eternal house price boom was a deeply held and virtually unassailable belief during the Celtic Tiger years. Skeptics were laughed at and ridiculed publically. Here's a quote from the article:

      "The hyenas have stopped laughing . . . each and every one of them was wrong. Instead, the price and supply of housing units has continued to break records."
      --Mr Dunne addresses the Society of Chartered Surveyors dinner in 2006

      This was a few months after the country's major bank, Bank of Ireland, introduced 100%+ mortgages for buyers, which revved prices upwards again after the beginning of a brief slowdown.

      This post is getting a little parochial, but to bring this back to the topic, I remind everyone that Ireland is now a bankrupted state in IMF hands, devastated by a massive property bust and credit crunch, with 5 out of 6 banks nationalised. This instance of "true believers" tipping over public opinion lead to the ruination of an entire country. I think its a good example of how the spread of ideas and ideologies can be damaging to societies, and why it's so important to challenge this spread in the early stages, because believe me, it's impossible to reverse things once the wildfire takes hold of the wider population.

      • I think its a good example of how the spread of ideas and ideologies can be damaging to societies, and why it's so important to challenge this spread in the early stages, because believe me, it's impossible to reverse things once the wildfire takes hold of the wider population.

        So, we're too late to sink Michelle Bachman? Maybe we should get those Shuttles working again.

      • Is Ireland really ruined? Does the sun not shine there anymore? Have the farms been destroyed by drought? Why can't you use the empty buildings to house the homeless? The real groupthink is that money can only be created by bankers, who must keep it artificially scarce so that wealth is defined in terms of the necessary existence of the poor. The radical idea (which I'm going to present without regard to whether it has 10% following or not) is that innovation should be the focus, that money games are based

    • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:44AM (#36884620) Homepage Journal

      I've scrolled down this far, and no one has mentioned that the GOP and the Democrats each have that magic 10%. So - what does "science" have to say about opposing ideas, or ideologies, colliding? Hmmmm......

      • by enjerth (892959)

        I've scrolled down this far, and no one has mentioned that the GOP and the Democrats each have that magic 10%. So - what does "science" have to say about opposing ideas, or ideologies, colliding? Hmmmm......

        Well, they can either (A) take turns holding the majority, or (B) they are fundamentally the same, or (C) both.

        I believe the correct answer is C.

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:24AM (#36883306)

    I believe this to be true, and 10% of my friends agree!

  • 2 groups (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BradleyUffner (103496) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:25AM (#36883310) Homepage

    So what if 2 groups hold opposing ideas at the same time, and each one has 10% mind share? The "Always" part of this prediction bothers me.

    • Then you have two opposing sides who blame the other for all the problems in the world.

      • That's unpossible! It could literally NEVER happen!!

      • by mcvos (645701) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:15AM (#36884076)

        This sounds like politics as usual.

        And on the topic of politics, can't the Americans here all agree that the US electoral system needs to change: proportional representation for the houses, and approval voting for the president. Get 10% of the US to believe that's a vast improvement over the current system, and the US will eventually be forced to fix its political system.

        • by medcalf (68293)

          Well, mathematically, an electoral college system actually maximizes the power of the individual voter. (There is more chance that a change in one vote will flip the smaller group, and that the magnified power of the smaller group will flip the bigger group, than that the entire electorate is only one vote apart.) I do think that proportional representation would be better for the House, but I would remove the Senate from electoral considerations altogether. Or maybe instead have three Senators per State, o

          • by mcvos (645701)

            Well, mathematically, an electoral college system actually maximizes the power of the individual voter. (There is more chance that a change in one vote will flip the smaller group, and that the magnified power of the smaller group will flip the bigger group, than that the entire electorate is only one vote apart.)

            That just means it gives magnified power to one voter that's most likely not you. Equal voting power for everybody is obviously the most fair. Also, it makes sense to have a system that rewards voting for your preferred candidate, rather than forcing you to vote for the lesser evil.

            I do think that proportional representation would be better for the House, but I would remove the Senate from electoral considerations altogether. Or maybe instead have three Senators per State, one elected by majority, one appointed by the governor or the legislature, and one selected at random from the jury pool.

            Sounds like an awesome idea.

            But then, I suspect my desires are different from yours. My goal is the establishment of a more solid republic, to combat majoritarian tendencies, while I suspect that your goal would be a more majoritarian system, given your statement.

            I'm happy with it just being somewhat less corrupt than it currently is. Having the Senate represent the states while the House represents the people sounds perfectly reasonable in a federal system lik

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            I think what the OP is getting at is that he wants a new election system where it's possible to have more than only 2 candidates. I think this is actually somewhat orthogonal to the electoral college system, which doesn't maximize an individual's power at all, it instead creates a bias towards voters in smaller states, by giving them more power than voters in larger states, which is exactly what the Electoral College system was designed to do. If you're an individual in California, you have significantly

    • by superwiz (655733)
      Hegelian Dialectic.
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Nah, it explains our current political environment pretty well. You get instability where the majority opinion switches from side to side.

  • It might work where the general population is neutral to the idea, but doesn't work in most ceicumstances when there are strong opinions. For example France is approaching a 10% Muslim population but it is extremely unlikely that the rest will suddenly accept Islam.
    • Why not? They can accept Islam as a major religious force in the country. It doesn't mean they need to convert or will convert. But they will accept many Islamic ideas and values (Hopefully the good ones).

  • How high is the percentage of geeks in the world? I'd say it's just over 10%, but then why isn't the world a better place, for example with functioning space programs?!

  • by neokushan (932374) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:27AM (#36883338)

    What if 10% of the population have an unshakable belief in the opposite? What happens then? Does society suffer, does one idea eventually take over?

    I can think of plenty of examples where this might happen - Christianity vs. Science (or even another religion). It's very possible that 10% of society has an unshakable belief in God while another 10% have an unshakable belief in Science (or no God).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anon-Admin (443764)

      What you end up with is Global Warming

    • Re:But what if... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Volante3192 (953645) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:40AM (#36883552)

      One word: Congress.

      • by TrentTheThief (118302) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:45AM (#36883616)

        No, the article is specifically speaking about sentient beings, not parasitic worms.

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          but those are the two groups of people in congress.

          interchangeable depending on which 10% you are in.

        • by celle (906675)

          "No, the article is specifically speaking about sentient beings, not parasitic worms."

          No, the article is specifically speaking about human beings, not parasitic worms.

          Fixed that for ya. Now for a real question.

          What's the difference human beings and parasitic worms?

          • What's the difference human beings and parasitic worms?

            One lives in a world of shit, feeding on of the feces of it's host, devoid of intelligence and serving no useful purpose. The other is an invertebrate.

    • It seems they are talking about new ideas versus old intrenched ideas. Over 10% of society has an unshakable belief in God (old idea), the idea that there is no God is a new one, and while common, its only an "unshakable idea" among less than 10% I'd be willing to assume. Once it becomes the new faith of over 10% it will grow like wildfire and eventually overtake the old idea. Unless of course some new pro God idea comes in behind it.

      • by asylumx (881307)
        So you're claiming that atheism is a new idea? I don't think that's the case. Atheism dates back at least to 500 BCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism#Etymology [wikipedia.org] Christianity by definition only dates back to ~30 CE. Wouldn't that mean that Christianity is still a new idea, too? Islam is even younger, with Muhammed living around 600 CE.
        • Atheism dates back at least to 500 BCE

          Interesting. I would have thought Atheism has been around for about 12 billion years - right up until the time someone thought up the "god" idea.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      My BS detector was bouncing off the limiter, because anyone with two eyes can see that reality is a lot more complex than "a really stubborn 10%"

      To reach their conclusion, the scientists developed computer models of various types of social networks.

      The initial state of each of the models was a sea of traditional-view holders.
      Each of these individuals held a view, but were also, importantly, open minded to other views.

      They are also looking to study how the percentage might change when input into a model where the society is polarized.
      Instead of simply holding one traditional view, the society would instead hold two opposing viewpoints.
      An example of this polarization would be Democrat versus Republican.

      But now I see that they were looking at introducing a new idea into a computer model of ideologically pliant nodes.
      I wish them the best of luck at figuring out how to invade a country and convert 10% of the population into unflappable believers in truth, justice, and the American way.

  • The study assumes 10% "strongly convinced" vs 90% "opinion-less". This is not very realistic. When you change the parameters to 10/80/10 you get a fluctuation between the two extrems (as to be expected).

    • by vlm (69642)

      The study assumes 10% "strongly convinced" vs 90% "opinion-less". This is not very realistic. When you change the parameters to 10/80/10 you get a fluctuation between the two extrems (as to be expected).

      Maybe its all a long winded way of saying "first social network to 10% of the population wins" Myspace never quite made it, FB made it, now we're stuck with it.

      • by mcvos (645701)

        So if we can get 10% of Facebookers onto Google+, the rest will follow!

        • by dokc (1562391)
          No, because all Facebook users will just use both Facebook and Google+ (you can't apply XOR operation on those two operands)
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:31AM (#36883410) Homepage Journal

    The definition of "unshakable" seems self-selecting, and perhaps even tautological.

    FWIW, I note the fortune at the bottom of the page in which I'm editing my comment says:

    Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian

    • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

      Unshakable means, that no matter what, these individuals will never become disbelievers.
      The rest of the population may accept the idea at one point and reject it again sometimes later, but 10% will always stick with it.
      In the end this is just some simulation that ran with certain probabilities to switch. If for 10% of the population the probability to switch from believer to nonbeliever is zero, then this seeding group will be enough to spread it to the majority eventually.

      I am pretty sure that this story w

    • This whole thing is tautological. It amounts to little more than "ideas that don't exceed 10% don't exceed 10%" and "ideas that exceed 10% exceed 10%". It's worthless drivel really, since all ideas must necessarily begin under 10% it cannot be said that ideas that don't exceed 10% won't exceed 10%.
    • The definition of "unshakable" seems self-selecting, and perhaps even tautological.

      It puzzles me that you submit this to Physical Review E:

      Physical Review E, interdisciplinary in scope, focuses on many-body phenomena, including recent developments in quantum and classical chaos and soft matter physics. It has sections on statistical physics, equilibrium and transport properties of fluids, liquid crystals, complex fluids, polymers, chaos, fluid dynamics, plasma physics, classical physics, and computational physics. In addition, the journal features sections on two rapidly growing areas: biological physics and granular materials.

      Physical Review E [aps.org]

  • I didn't, but this makes no sense:
    “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,”

    • by shadowrat (1069614) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:51AM (#36883680)
      that was my first instinct too. then i thought about the converse. "population" is a matter of perspective. in 10 people, 1 person is 10% of that population. I didn't RTFA, but i'd guess if 5% of a large population holds a belief, it's not going to gain traction, but if those 5% somehow come together there is a subpopulation where 10% or more hold the belief and can influence the rest. I imagine it works better the more that subpopulation can separate itself from the larger culture. This scenario does play out over and over.

      of course, taken to extremes you could say 1 person in a population of 3 is 33% of the population so everyone should adopt that person's beliefs. that doesn't happen so the size of the population must be part of the function.

      or it's all bunk
    • by MajroMax (112652) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @12:52PM (#36885558)
      Yes, I did read the paper. (Disclaimer: I have a PhD, but not in graph theory. Your results may vary.)

      In short, the paper repeats analysis and numerical simulations of a simplified 'agreement model'. People are abstracted as nodes on a graph, communication happens between them, and consensus is reached. If a graph is initialized randomly, with nodes 'believing' either A or B, eventually (in log(N) time) the graph reaches consensus with every node 'believing' A xor B.

      This paper adds a twist; some fraction of nodes are 'committed' to A, and cannot ever be convinced of B. To quote the paper:

      Here, we study the evolution of opinions in the binary agreement model starting from an initial state where all agents adopt a given opinion B, except for a finite fraction p of the total number of agents who are committed agents and have state A. Committed agents, introduced previously in [23], are defined as nodes that can influence other nodes to alter their state through the usual prescribed rules, but which themselves are immune to influence.

      Now, if even one node cannot be convinced of B, then no consensus can be reached -- but it doesn't really matter. If the fraction is really small, then you can more or less ignore them.

      The interesting part about that paper is their threshold effect -- once p gets to be over 10%, not only does A eventually win, but it does so -quickly-.

      The applications to politics still hold, but not on the big, obvious issues. Those issues, like taxes and abortion and health care and anything else that really makes the news, have committed believers on both sides -- they're outside the scope of study. Where this research becomes really interesting is in quieter, uncontroversial issues -- like regulation details, or climage change before Al Gore. There, this research suggests that the influence of sockpuppetry and lobbying is nonlinear -- beyond a critical point, the lobbyists completely win.

      Of course, caveats about "the real world isn't an abstract graph" apply.

  • But the way their research is summarized makes it sound ridiculous.

    Under 10% and an idea will never get traction? Above 10% and it will be accepted by everyone?

    This is beyond oversimplification.

    • The problem is that this article badly summarizes the results of computer modeling that is supposed to represent human interactions. Apparently the tipping point for their simulation is 10%. Without seeing the actual original research findings, it is difficult to see if this actually matters, but the available article seems to say that the 10% is irrespective of network structure.

      The computer simulation seems more analogous to a disease outbreak than to an idea. Imagine a percentage of people are zombies. T

  • But if it takes an infinite amount of time for a belief to be adopted by a majority if it's held by under 10% of the population, how does it ever grow over 10%? it's like a zeno's paradox.
  • The actual paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:45AM (#36883618)
  • The Abstract (Score:5, Informative)

    by Unkyjar (1148699) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @10:46AM (#36883628)

    seems a lot more reasonable than the article/summary:

    We show how the prevailing majority opinion in a population can be rapidly reversed by a small fraction p of randomly distributed committed agents who consistently proselytize the opposing opinion and are immune to influence. Specifically, we show that when the committed fraction grows beyond a critical value pcâ10%, there is a dramatic decrease in the time Tc taken for the entire population to adopt the committed opinion. In particular, for complete graphs we show that when ppc, Tc~lnN. We conclude with simulation results for ErdÅ's-Rényi random graphs and scale-free networks which show qualitatively similar behavior.

  • I daresay that 10% of the population is young enough to firmly believe in Santa Claus. That does not translate into the majority of the society believing in him.

    • by 517714 (762276)
      I believe the US debt indicates otherwise.
      • They ARE the ones that don't believe in actually increasing funding to service debts they rack up themselves, so I suppose it's possible.

  • Ok, so they investigated computer simulations of three different models of communication within a population. Everyone talks to everyone else, special hub people who talk to lots of people, and everyone with equal number of connections. Then they sprinkled in special people who's opinions couldn't be changed, and let them talk.

    Couple Questions:
    How did they determine whether listening to someone influenced a persons opinion?
    Seems likely that in a given population, a minority of committed indivi
  • So, since 1/10 people believe the world is ending soon, that's apparently the belief of everybody? We can't deny that roughly one out of ten people have the armageddon bug, so where's the majority on that?

    What people say and what people do help to illustrate how humans are capable of believing, sure, but also of saying what they think other people want them to hear. Behaviour, not words, proves a person's belief. You can say all day that you don't believe in adultery but still have sex with your neighbor in

  • by mbone (558574) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:00AM (#36883818)

    The authors (on a quick read of the original paper) are talking about a saddle point in the adoption of a new idea. This is basically the same as epidemiology, and their paper can be viewed as about a model of contagion in the case of infectious agents who can't be cured and don't die. So, in that sense this is like the classic result in epidemiology that an epidemic can't spread if the "basic reproduction number" is less than 50%. It's not magic, and it doesn't mean that if you get 10% + 1 acceptance is guaranteed, just where the tipping point is in this "modified epidemiology."

  • It's proof that their numbers are off!
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:02AM (#36883836) Homepage
    They concentrate on the incendiary ideas, are poorly written, and do a horrible job of communicating.

    For example, it ignores the case where there are two contradictory ideas, each held by more than 10% . (Liberal and Conservative politics for example)

    And of course to become widely adopted the idea must grow past 10%. You can go from 9% to 90% without passing 10%.

    A better way to write the story would have been, either one of the following (not sure which is true, as the article did not make it clear):

    1) Unshakable belief grows slowly, no matter how zealous it's proponents are, up until it hits 10% of the population. Then, it it is not opposed by another unshakable belief, the growth will expand exponentially till it exceeds 50%.

    or

    2) Unshakable beliefs either spread very quickly from the beginning, quickly surpassing 10% and becomeing 50% or greater, or grow at a slow rate, never surpassing 10% of the population.

    Either one of those two statements could be the truth. The article failed to explain which was true, instead concentrating on the stupid and obviously false statement that if an unshakable idea is held by more than 10% it will quickly become accepted by over 50%.

  • I skimmed the paper. These guys seem to be testing a universe where only two "opinions" exist to choose from. I don't know about you, but those types of scenarios don't exist in my world. Reality is always more complicated than that.

    While oftentimes there is use in examining a simplified version of something, this doesn't appear to be one of those times.

  • This is not a discovery; making a model is part of the process, true (forming a hypothesis), but there is no validation. Anyone can poke a few formulas into a spreadsheet and call themselves scientists, otherwise.

    Furthermore, doesn't the subject matter have something to do with the maleability (or commitedness) of the individuals? How is that addressed in the study?

  • It might explain the Tea Party then.

    • In all honesty, I think they're a perfect example. A relatively small, vocal portion of our citizens having a massive impact on governance.

  • Belief doesn't alter facts

    Once upon a time more than 10% of the people believed that the earth was flat..
    It didn't stop this oblate spheroid from spinning, and orbiting the sun etc.

  • And I quote

    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.

    In the real world, I think you could very easily have two groups of true believers holding mutually exclusive beliefs who each

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @11:37AM (#36884512) Homepage

    So either this guy is Hari Seldon and has a working theory of psychohistory, or this is mostly bullshit.

  • 10% (Score:4, Funny)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @12:09PM (#36884994)

    This gives whole new meaning to decimating the population.

  • Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that, based on too-simplistic assumptions, when just 10 percent of the population in their model holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society in their model. 'When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent [in our model], 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 t

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