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Social Networks Science

Social Influence and the Wisdom of Crowd Effect 143

formfeed writes "A lot has been written lately on the crowd effect and the wisdom of crowds. But for those of us who are doubtful, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has published a study showing how masses can become dumber: social influence. While previous studies show how groups of people can come up with remarkably accurate results, it seems 'even mild social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect in simple estimation tasks.' Social influence 'diminishes the diversity of the crowd without improvements of its collective error.' In short, crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden."
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Social Influence and the Wisdom of Crowd Effect

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  • Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GeorgeMonroy ( 784609 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:31PM (#36169818) Homepage


    Just look at Facebook.

  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) * on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @03:32PM (#36169828) Journal

    First post!! GNAA!

    Anyone who browsed the site at -1 in it's heyday cannot dispute the claim "crowd intelligence only works in cases where the opinion of others is hidden."

    Take a bow, boys.

    And no, the irony of this post is not lost on me.

  • Re:Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:07PM (#36170226)

    Let me fix that for you:

    "Just look at [Slashdot]."

    Especially pay attention to the mod points of persons who post things contrary to the socialthink of this group. Like saying, for example, "I tried Ubuntu linux but didn't really like it. So I went back to WinXP (or Mac)." Or "Sony is a great company." ;-)


  • by traindirector ( 1001483 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:14PM (#36170298)

    This is exactly what happened with George W. Bush's felony wiretapping crimes. The clear fact was that he and his administration, through the NSA's new wiretapping programs, committed multiple wiretapping felonies, each punishable by law by up to five years in prison. Instead of reporting this inconvenient fact, the news "experts" focused on "strategy"--is it a good strategy for Democrats to hold the president to inconvenient standards like the law, when it might make them look weak on security? And somehow this massive crime was talked down into a non-issue, quietly pushed out of the scene, and when people had forgotten about it, swept under the rug by most everyone in power with retroactive immunities.

    I think (hope?) that without the "opinion leaders" the outcome would have been very different.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:15PM (#36170300)

    I take it you haven't actually listened to NPR, like, ever. Unlike Limbaugh, Beck and O'Reilly, you do actually get multiple sides to the things they cover. There's a few exceptions here and there, but by and large it's pretty fair to the issues.

    I take it you have yet to realize that reality has a liberal bias to it, a group that wants to take us to a future which will likely never exist is better than a group that wants to take us back to a reality which definitely never existed.

  • by marnues ( 906739 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @04:30PM (#36170510)
    I do think this is why we have the _same_ two political parties.
  • by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @05:06PM (#36171014)

    Facebook is just plain crowd: like a mob with everyone shouting.

    Slashdot is a crowd moderated by randomly selected crowd-members, with multiple-moderation, meta-moderation, and karma-influence.

    That's a huge difference. And you can see it. On Facebook, there's an endless stream of garbage. On slashdot, you can go back to an article that has matured and just read the 4s and 5s and get a pretty good sense of the best content.

    No slashdot ain't close to perfect. What this shows however is that "wisdom of the crowds" is variable based on the system used. The more complex and well thought-out the system, the more wise the crowd gets.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @06:20PM (#36172010) Journal

    The buffalo that cuts itself out of the stampede is the only one the feeds the wolves.

    If stampeding was such a bad survival tactic, why has it persisted? And by "survival tactic", I mean at the level of the individual organism, as well as the group and species level. As long as Billy Buffalo keeps his head down, his mouth shut, and his feet churning in the same direction as the entire rest of the herd, he'll be fine.

    Which is, quite possibly, why human socialization also strongly encourages conformal and consensus-seeking behavior.

  • Re:Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrazyDuke ( 529195 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @08:22PM (#36173214)

    As someone that has been posting here on and off over the past decade or so, this is my experience: Most of what you think is really insightful doesn't get modded at all, and even then, usually not much. Go with the group think on controversial issue, get a +2 to +3 and have it rocket back and forth for several days. Post something obvious, like a link, the fad meme, copypasta, or a non-controversial line of the group-think and get +4 to +5 every so often if you are first in that thread. Post a counter-group think message that insults the egos of the readers, get modded troll and then you can whine about how much of a victim you are. Post the same, but without directly attacking the readers, while prefacing it with shit like "I know this is going to get me modded down. But..." will often net you a +4 to +5 about a quarter to half the time. Post a damning reply to an obvious shill: possibility of every post for the past several days modded down a few points within a few hours, or even have the entire branch of that thread somehow disappear.

    Posting the simplistic and benign part of group-think on this board is the most reliable way to gain Karma. But, I've seen forum trolls and shills keep afloat for a while by inter-spacing their usual "You all suck!" "Foo, Inc. products are so awesome! I plan on buying them all right away!" posts with a "Well, I know this doesn't sit well with everyone. But, my reasoning is..." sort of post that rockets to +5 and stays there.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's