Re: Modeling Rumors: The No Plane Pentagon French Hoax Case

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Fri 06 Dec 2002 - 15:00:52 GMT

  • Next message: Wade Smith: "Re: Modeling Rumors: The No Plane Pentagon French Hoax Case"

    >Subject: Modeling Rumors: The No Plane Pentagon French Hoax Case Date: Fri,
    >06 Dec 2002 08:29:34 -0600
    >Modeling Rumors: The No Plane Pentagon French Hoax Case
    >Serge Galam
    >The recent astonishing wide adhesion of french people to the rumor claiming
    >`No plane did crash on the Pentagon on September the 11", is given a
    >generic explanation in terms of a model of minority opinion spreading.
    >Using a majority rule reaction-diffusion dynamics, a rumor is shown to
    >invade for sure a social group provided it fulfills simultaneously two
    >criteria. First it must initiate with a support beyond some critical
    >threshold which however, turns out to be always very low. Then it has to be
    >consistent with some larger collective social paradigm of the group.
    >Othewise it just dies out. Both conditions were satisfied in the french
    >case with the associated book sold at more than 200 000 copies in just a
    >few days. The rumor was stopped by the firm stand of most newspaper editors
    >stating it is nonsense. Such an incredible social dynamics is shown to
    >result naturally from an open and free public debate among friends and
    >colleagues. Each one searching for the truth sincerely on a free will basis
    >and without individual biases. The polarization process appears also to be
    >very quick in agreement with reality. It is a very strong anti-democratic
    >reversal of opinion although made quite democratically. The model may apply
    >to a large range of rumors.

    Your analysis sounds interesting except for one thing: the guy who tells his buddy "Did you hear there was no plane that crashed into the Pentagon?" is not a guy searching for the truth on a free will basis and without individual biases. In fact, it's impossible not to have biases in any individual. That's part of what memes are.



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