Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas


July 25, 2011
Space, Technology, Uncategorized

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,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

As an example, the ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt appear to exhibit a similar process, according to Szymanski. “In those countries, dictators who were in power for decades were suddenly overthrown in just a few weeks.”

The findings were published in the July 22, 2011, early online edition of the journal Physical Review E in an article titled “Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities.”

An important aspect of the finding is that the percent of committed opinion holders required to shift majority opinion does not change significantly regardless of the type of network in which the opinion holders are working. In other words, the percentage of committed opinion holders required to influence a society remains at approximately 10 percent, regardless of how or where that opinion starts and spreads in the society.

To reach their conclusion, the scientists developed computer models of various types of social networks. One of the networks had each person connect to every other person in the network. The second model included certain individuals who were connected to a large number of people, making them opinion hubs or leaders. The final model gave every person in the model roughly the same number of connections. 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.

Once the networks were built, the scientists then “sprinkled” in some true believers throughout each of the networks. These people were completely set in their views and unflappable in modifying those beliefs. As those true believers began to converse with those who held the traditional belief system, the tides gradually and then very abruptly began to shift.

“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.”

The research has broad implications for understanding how opinion spreads. “There are clearly situations in which it helps to know how to efficiently spread some opinion or how to suppress a developing opinion,” said Associate Professor of Physics and co-author of the paper Gyorgy Korniss. “Some examples might be the need to quickly convince a town to move before a hurricane or spread new information on the prevention of disease in a rural village.”

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.

The research was funded by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) through SCNARC, part of the Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance (NS-CTA), the Army Research Office (ARO), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The research is part of a much larger body of work taking place under SCNARC at Rensselaer. The center joins researchers from a broad spectrum of fields – including sociology, physics, computer science, and engineering – in exploring social cognitive networks. The center studies the fundamentals of network structures and how those structures are altered by technology. The goal of the center is to develop a deeper understanding of networks and a firm scientific basis for the newly arising field of network science. More information on the launch of SCNARC can be found at http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2721&setappvar=page(1)

Szymanski, Sreenivasan, and Korniss were joined in the research by Professor of Mathematics Chjan Lim, and graduate students Jierui Xie (first author) and Weituo Zhang.




Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

69 Responses to Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

  1. Takeaway Delivery October 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

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  2. Lloyd MacILquham - cicblog.com/comments.html August 16, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    My observations ( empirical ) :
    If 10 – 15% of the people are animated to remove a government or ruler their days are numbered.
    (see for example:
    cicblog.com/comments.html “There is only one source of power – people”, 29 July, 2009)

    The findings sited in this study are along the same lines but with important exceptions:

    The statement: “when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society”

    Is, it is submitted, logically unsupported, since what happens in a society where there are two, or more, groups of 10% each with “unshakable believes” that are diametrically opposed – something that is not inconceivable, especially in communities with large populations, diverse geographically, politically, demographically, etc., for example say we call the groups Republican and Democrat.

    It seems to me that there must be something more at work before what they are proposing comes to play. It might be that as they seems to suggest the 10% may be necessary but I am not convinced it is sufficient.

    It doesn’t seems to take into account the politico-socio dynamics of a real society.

    Lloyd MacILquham cicblog.com/comments.html

  3. insub2 July 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    To the contrary. Democracy would be the only way to allow the system to change to conform to the evolution of prevailing societal norms.

    PS, there is no real world example of a national government that is also a democracy. The closest things are republics and oligarchies.

  4. philosophia March 28, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    You say “not contested.” It’s not that the idea has been ACCEPTED; it’s that most of the time, the rational people I know won’t waste their time dignifying the claim with a response. The “evidence” presented to support it is laughable. But since you’ve obviously misinterpreted others’ silence as broad support…

    Just so you know: I am not a Zionist, I have been critical of the Israeli government, and I am sympathetic with the plight of Palestinians. I can’t help wondering, though, whether antisemitism drives some–not all, but some–of the people who continue to make this absurd claim in the absence of hard evidence.

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  6. Chs November 27, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Just the opposite of what this research indicates.

  7. Aaron September 26, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    notsureiftroll.jpg

  8. Aaron September 26, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    A masterful, if likely unintentional, indictment of democracy.

  9. Ravi August 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Tried getting the code from the author; no response.

    Peer review articles like this one should have their code published for replication….

  10. Donald Arthur Kronos - Actor August 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    While their models are obviously flawed and simplified, the results they supply may very well mimic the overall process in society rather well. Complexities in a large system tend to balance each other out in favor of a more simplistic overall effect, while simplicity in a large system can just as easily lead to complex overall behavior of the system itself. Look into cellular automata for a better understanding of complex systems modeled with simple rules. In fact, their concepts could be explored further through cellular automata modeling.

    While the “10%” is obviously a rounded and approximate figure, the concept itself is very much like how brain cells work and it would be no surprrise if it turned out that interacting brains behave much like interacting brain cells.

    Donald Arthur Kronos – Actor

    (P.S. Don’t let my fans convince you I’m right. There’s not enough of them to make up 10% of your contacts anyway. Hehe)

  11. John McCarthy August 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    If a person Believes, there is nothing you can say to get him to stop Believing. If a person does not Believe, there is nothing you can say to get him to Believe.

  12. Dave August 1, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    I’ve heard of that some 30-odd years ago during the Transcendental Meditation movement. I do not know how factual these theories are. Maybe it’s the 10% in the fashion industry, or the 10% in the music industry, or the 10% in the newspaper media industry, and maybe the 10% in the home computer industry, for each of these ten-percenters have had a huge impact on our lives.

  13. LosGatosCA July 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    What does SCNARC say about the existence of SCNIPES?

    SCIENTIFICCALLYWISE, I mean.

  14. JC July 30, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    This is so dodgy empirically and statistically that it doesn’t even pass the bullshit test. What is a ‘committed believer’, and how do you measure that? Three different types of social network are modelled, none of which conforms to any kind of reality that is recognisable. I could go on, but really I’d stick to the physics, boys and girls, and stop pretending that complex social interaction can be analysed by any kind of nomothetic modelling….

  15. Cor (formerly evil) July 29, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Yeah, and before 10% were on board, it was only 9%, and before that, 8. What’s it up to now?

  16. Cor (formerly evil) July 29, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    I was aiming for concision; not courtesy. Creationists, Birthers, Truthers, and the like don’t get reasoned responses. Absent some new and really strong evidence, no sane person will discuss Israel’s “involvment with 9/11″ any more than we want to debate Obama’s birthplace or the faked moon landing.
    I felt the need to comment because of the way your post describes “the public” and “sheeple”. . . You seem to be referring to people other than yourself – which I found odd.

  17. me2 July 29, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    There’s a button for (yuk!) facebook, one for twitter, one for RSS.
    But if I want to print only the posting but not the rest of the page, there’s no way to do that. :(

  18. soul July 29, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    truly said. I agree, what i have gained from net about aryans tells me that minorities can do anything. But, here, the colour was dominating the minds of dravidans and their so called STORIES about Gods, knitted, stitched and pushed in effectively gradually into the brain to make them all away from the mother nature. They have infact got all the region, pre-plan. innocence and ignorance of people leads them all to loose everything. Nothing can be done now.

  19. Allison Hunt July 29, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Spoken as the true gentleman you are.

  20. Cor (formerly evil) July 29, 2011 at 1:59 am #

    Oh my god, fuck you. For real. Baaa.

  21. Allison Hunt July 29, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    I think key is that the original 10% have unshakable beliefs. People may call themselves Christian or Muslim but few buy it without reservation.

  22. Allison Hunt July 28, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    For us folks in the truth movement, we have all encountered how unmovable the public can be despite overwhelming evidence, My struggle with getting the word out has taught me that the public doesn’t learn things intellectually i.e. they are not swayed by analyzing the available evidence. Rather, they adopt ideas SOCIALLY! I suppose that’s why they’re called sheeple. This research simply confirms what I have already figured out the hard way. As a result of my intensive efforts to wake folks from their slumber, I have swayed a grand total of zero. It’s absolutely amazing yet true.

    My guess is that the “911 was an Israeli operation” meme has hit the proverbial 10% tipping point, since that idea no longer seems to be contested. How that original 10% was sold an idea outside of the Main Stream Media is beyond me but I would certainly be interested in knowing.

  23. Peter Baumann July 28, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Outside of largely homogeneous cultures, one can rarely find population groups not polarized. And given how people can become polarized in more than one cultural identity (religion, politics, race, class), this study just reads as too simple to be useful right now, but I do look forward to results of the larger scale studies.

  24. MR July 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    One of the ways the study doesn’t hold much water is because in reality, “populations” are rather undefined and fluid, and people become isolated easily. Say you have a group of 1000 people, with 100 holding a certain view. The study presumes that view will be held by the majority- but, add 100 more people to the group and what happens?
    Military-funded studies are not honest-science, and
    “It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” eliminates all credibility.
    Also, I see no examples from what I have read of extinction of ideas. 10% could be significant because that’s one finger :/

  25. heart July 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    interesting subject indeed!!!! I would like to know about the history of germany and the life of hitler. What made him a dictator? Was he psychologically affected? if it was then explore his teenage years. Also, explore the people who helped him doing that. Were they all people with same ideas if not who brainwashed them all? Anyways, germans are happy these days. But steffy graf married not a german but an american. Explore her life also.

  26. Anonymous July 28, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    This could explain how Hitler was able to gain such totalitarian control over Germany when initially, he had only minimal support. If given a foothold, smaller, ideologically driven minorities can muscle their way into power and through intimidation and either brutality or financial tyranny, end up controlling entire nations.

  27. B July 28, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    [citation needed]

  28. eric July 28, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Right: So this paper basically makes a useless claim.

  29. eric July 28, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    The main claim is kind of ridiculous regardless of the size of the population.

    Consider the following scenario:

    10% of a population are devout Muslims.
    10% of a population are devoit Christians.

    Which will be the norm?

    Now, I realize there are lots of objections to this analogy — but this is really just about what the PR is claiming.

    This kind of facile and absurd public summary of scientific work has got to stop if social scientists want to be taken seriously.

  30. Riip July 28, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    let’s face it… you are both random irate internet pricks!
    don’t ya?

  31. Vire70 July 28, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    What the fuck are you on about?

  32. heart July 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    Thiest wants to become an atheist after seeing atrocities in the society and the silence of Gods. So, he starts exploring this earth for seeking solutions. Finally, he is finding the “great truth” that there are so many Gods on earth who are the reasons for atrocities. And also he finds out that they are the one who changed the entire concept of nature and also are exploiting the nature. The wisdom grows and grows after exploring the happenings in the society. :) finally he wants to get into the world of science and spirituality both. Science can be explored by efforts but not the subject spirituality fully. Holy messages are being sent to this earth but they are neglected always.

  33. Michael Carter July 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    Those all have opposing views of equal or greater belief.

  34. Michael Carter July 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Does it have to be 90% or just 51%?

  35. Michael Carter July 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    The American Revolution was supported by 1/5th of the American population and 4/5ths for the British. That 20% spread like fire. It probably started at about 10%. So….there’s a little bit of comparative analysis.

  36. John Mack July 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    And the 20% (estimated) of the Roman Empire that was Jewish or Jewish affiliated (yes, that was allowed) thought their religion was pretty meaningful too.

  37. John Mack July 27, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Is this why the Tea Party rules America?

    Is this why everyone is a fundamentalist Christian?

    Is this why everyone is an atheist?

  38. duncan July 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Well, the commenting capability here is no better than the article writing and the equations in my comment were wiped out. Go read the actual scientific paper.

  39. duncan July 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    For those souls who like to critique scientific studies, here is the important part for your detailed rejoinders:

    “for complete graphs we show that when
    p pc, Tc ∼ ln N.

    We conclude with simulation results for Erdos-Renyi random graphs and scale-free networks which show qualitatively similar behavior.”

    However, you perhaps should read the entire study (below). Any takers?

    PHYSICAL REVIEW E 84, 011130 (2011)

  40. heart July 27, 2011 at 5:17 am #

    absolutely not…each one if he thinks with rational views wont accept what others believe strongly about a faith, its because, each one has different qualities and opinions. In the ancient period only trees with medicinal qualtiies were worshipped ex.margosa tree, banyan, wood apple tree etc etc. in india. Even now women without issue worship some trees to get blessing, had they been left to worship the nature, then there wont be anything called idols in india. Nature is God and God is Nature. But today because of idols we have lost our love and friendlyness towards humanity. Each of us instead of behaving like a human behave like people belong to a particular community. It creats tension among people. The selfish people with selfish desires always use this passion and affection of people towards religion exploit them and always hurt their feelings. A new born baby do not know about its religion, but we humanbeing only teach it and preach about how to follow a faith. So, we only plant the seed in its brain that grows and grows and it look at the society with narrow mindedness. In south india, people are always attached to their belief and caste especially and it create tension everywhere. All are with same coloured blood but their brain only make them act diferently. So, the culprit here is the “BRAIN”.

  41. Mike July 27, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    ““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, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.””

    I got that far. That statement pretty much killed any credibility they had.

  42. Vire70 July 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    So… you have a meeting of ten people. One person has a new idea. The article claims it is a foregone conclusion that everyone will adopt this idea.

    Now, I realize the study is aimed at larger populations, but perhaps they ought to make clearer distinctions between what it does or does not apply to as well. As Yan rightly points out, it doesn’t work if there are opposing sides, and it obviously doesn’t work in very small populations either. It is also unexplained how the ideas break the 10% threshold to begin with if they do not appreciably grow below that point.

    More importantly I think, what population are you aware of that would be 90% open to ANY idea, at least nowadays when information is so much more abundant? I can understand the idea of ancient Rome adopting Christianity because it filled a niche, but what about a new religion of today? I can’t see the same thing happening, and yet we know religions can still crop up.

    I’d be interested to see what they actually tested to figure out that it ‘always’ happens, because it’s not what I’d expect to see in reality at all.

  43. Steve July 26, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    Take a mathematical theory and lend it weight by mentioning a political uprising. What? Who says the government was overthrown by everyone in the population having the same idea? What idea is that exactly?

    People who participate in such a thing for a myriad of personal reasons, from a strong political conviction to simply hating the way things are, or just hoping that “doing something” will improve their lives and lead to food on the table.

    You can’t oversimplify human motivations like that. It’s not very scientific.

  44. Adam July 26, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    ‘When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. [...] ‘Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.’

    That’s a contradiction. Obviously the number has to be below 10 percent to get to 10 percent, so saying below 10 percent never grows is bizarre.

    Unless you’re saying more than 10 percent of people spontaneously have the same idea at the same time. That’s possible but also bizarre.

  45. heart July 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    most of the people are in need of a form to comfort them, so, when it has become a habit, it is very difficult to come out of this circle. We are in need of someone who suffered a lot, so that we can also connect ourselves with him or her. We dont actually want to go deep into the subject, but there is always a need for a “shoulder” to lean on. The way in which someone met with cruelty done by the cruel hearted people, we want to share our problems with that form. It is purely psycological based atachment. Habit only makes or moulds the characters i believe. There was a need for a religion to console humanbeings who were in distress. When we are clear about the invisible force that operate us all we wont be thinking about anything religious in nature, but would only think about that “vaccum” that holds a lot of mysteries with it. When we burn the dead bodies, we get the ash, but when we dont, the body is intact. But in both the cases, the souls goes out in search of that spirtual world, the one who finished all kinds of responsibilties rest in peace and the one who does not, it has to wander, unfulfilled desires, commitments are to be taken care of. They are in need of someone to pass the message. This earth remains still a question mark.

  46. dalancroft July 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Not to mention; bad punctuation.

  47. Ron July 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    the Roman Empire, there was no meaningful religion for most of the population, so Christianity was able to spread thanks to this phenomenon.

    Unless you have some new and different usage of the word “meaningful”, that statement is utter hogwash.

    Christianity took hold because it did a better job of meeting the physical and emotional needs of the disenfranchised: slaves, the poor and women.

  48. Ron July 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    That’s exactly the first thought I had… There’s missing logic somewhere among the neurons.

  49. John Bigbooty July 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Yan et al,

    It’s not crap, it’s computer models of networks and the assumptions and mechanisms are well described. There is nothing to complain about. Everyone except you realizes it’s not a quantitative prediction about human society, it’s a vastly simplified but illustrative approximation.

    And it has strong intuitive appeal. It’s very cool

  50. Stuart Poss July 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    And therefore the earth is still flat and the sun revolves around it?

    One can only suspect that a few reviewers, if there were any. should be rather surprised to learn this considering that these weere once the overwhelmingly dominant views of their time and one could actually be burned at the stake for doubting it.

  51. Stuart Poss July 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    And therefor the earth is still flat and the sun revolves around the earth?

    Its time for Physical Review E to get some better editors.

  52. Mike Perry July 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Someone posted, “Generally, people of faith are not open minded to other views!”

    That attitude is also common in the sciences and humanities. It’s a human problem, not a religion versus secular one. The noted physicist Max Planck put it this way:

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

  53. Yan July 26, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    That makes more sense, but would this *always* be the case as the article states? That sounds like it is being out rather strongly.

  54. Chris Carpenter July 26, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Read the article again :). It says that they have not yet looked into a population with polarization (people devoted to opposite views, like your Buddhist/Muslim example) and that they wish to look into that in the future. Their experiment -only- applies to populations where there are 10% people with a hard core belief and 90% who are open and have no real previous opinion. Also, because of the way the computer model was created, it will only work on a macro scale. On a micro scale all the other factors have too much influence IMHO.

  55. Tim July 26, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    The people commenting about this study (and complaining about it) should not try and apply it to religion. The study states that “Each of these individuals held a view, but were also, importantly, open minded to other views.”

    Generally, people of faith are not open minded to other views! In fact, suggesting someone’s faith might be the “wrong” one usually just pisses them off. What it doesn’t do (obviously) is make them think “Hmmm, maybe everything I have believed in and devoted my life to is wrong. Let me seriously consider turning my life upside down to support your viewpoint”

    It would be more appropriate to consider views such as whether humans caused global warming, whether eggs cause high cholesterol, or whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

  56. AlphaWolf July 26, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    I think this depends on the total population of the “tribe”. The article is pretty skim on exact data and experiments. See the book “influencer” for more details on data and analytics (I’m not affiliated in any way – just picked up the book a few weeks ago)

  57. Bengie July 26, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    It’s *obvious* that they mean ideas that other’s are willing to believe but are constrained by popularity.

    Just because 12% believe in reincarnation, doesn’t mean their hard held belief will over-ride the other 78% of the population’s hard-held belief that it is not real.

    A better example is this hypothetical situation, lets say no one had any info on lead and health. At some point, 10% of the population believes lead could be bad for you but there’s no proof yet. But 10% of the population knows someone who worked with lead and is now sick.

    Now you have 10% of the population with a firm belief that lead can be bad, so the idea spreads really really fast.

    And unless someone creates a counter-claim stating lead is good, people will continue to assume it’s bad.

    Again, hypothetical as we all know it’s bad for us.

  58. arid July 26, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Sounds like the Pareto Principle, but at 10-90 instead of the accepted 20-80 of the Pareto Principle. Once you get 10 percent of the group involved, you’re pretty much done. Maybe the 10 percent is to get conviction of at least 50 percent (the majority), so that makes sense along with the Pareto Principle.

  59. Ghana July 26, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Let’s just look at reality and see that this is; nothing.

  60. Yan July 26, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    You may have a point, it was the “always” claim that irritated me as stated in the article, it sounds like they were saying that if a small group believed something then it was a done deal that everyone else would eventually agree, and I am pretty sure that this is not the case.

  61. Yan July 26, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Well, you *could* just fault the reasoning I gave above instead of getting so upset. So if two groups of people, both greater than or equal to ten percent of the population, believe different things, does this mean that they both come true?

  62. dilbert July 26, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    And you are probably stupid enough to think this “story” is that same as the “research”.

    What a way to jump to conclusions.

  63. JDCyrus July 26, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    To respond to some earlier comments, I think this only applies to ideas that can spread virally. This is heavily dependent on social conditions; religion, for instance, isn’t very good at this nowadays because existing . On the other hand, if you go back 2000 years to the Roman Empire, there was no meaningful religion for most of the population, so Christianity was able to spread thanks to this phenomenon. (This is also why it never really caught on in the East; they did already have meaningful religions.) Similarly, the idea of a revolution can spread easily in a political climate like the current one in the Middle East.

  64. dilbert July 26, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Well… it could be that you don’t actually have any. I’d rather base my ideas of research and not just what some random irate internet prick thinks.

  65. Yan July 26, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Because I can use common sense. If 10% of people in the US are Buddhists and 10% are Muslim does that mean the majority will one day be Muslim and Buddhist? I don’t consider either of those things as being demonstrated based on what just read. By the way, the burden of proof usually lies with those who make the claim. Its not my job to come up with research that disproves as silly claim. It is THEIR job to support their own claims.

  66. dilbert July 26, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Hey… I got an idea. Why don’t some of you actually do an experiment instead of just saying “utter crap” and offering no alternative research? Just a thought…

  67. John Small Berries July 26, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    “‘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, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. ‘Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.'”

    Okay, I’ll bite. If there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas when those who hold them number less than ten percent, how do they manage to increase their numbers in order to break the ten percent barrier?

  68. Eric July 26, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    And what happens if 10% or more hold an unshakable belief one way, and another 10% or more hold an unshakable belief the other way? Such as with Abortion vs. Right to Life?

  69. Yan July 26, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Utter crap. If twelve percent of the people in a country believe in reincarnation, for example, does this mean it will become the belief of the majority? This is very weak logic. Change “always” to “sometimes” and you might have a case, although that wouldn’t actually be telling you much.

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