From: Grant Callaghan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri 06 Dec 2002 - 15:00:52 GMT
>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
>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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