Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Groupthink and How it Backfires ... Spectacularly #Science #Politics


Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The obligatory picture of group with the apparent suggestion they're thinking about more than whether Chicago or New York has the best pizza when, of course, there's no question.


Anyone following forecasting polls leading up to the 2016 election likely believed Hillary Clinton would become the 45th president of the United States. Although this opinion was the consensus among most political-opinion leaders and media, something clearly went wrong with these prediction tools.

Though it may never be known for certain the reasons for the discrepancy between public perception and the electoral reality, new findings from the University of Pennsylvania's Damon Centola may offer a clue: the wisdom of a crowd is in the network.

Phys.org:  New findings refute groupthink, proving that wisdom of crowds can prevail

Yah, yah, we get it that Facebook can't find its way home even with a GPS and a trail of breadcrumbs but there's more to it than the above.


"The classic theory says that if you let people talk to each other groups go astray. But," said Centola, "we find that even if people are not particularly accurate, when they talk to each other, they help to make each other smarter. Whether things get better or worse depends on the networks.

"In egalitarian networks," he said, "where everyone has equal influence, we find a strong social-learning effect, which improves the quality of everyone's judgements. When people exchange ideas, everyone gets smarter.

- PO

That may not seem to represent Ithaka but it's true nevertheless even if only looking at the music.  Suggestions from others may come and wow, man, I never heard that before so it makes me 'smarter' and hopefully the reverse is true when I find something tantalizing in that way for you.

There is a standard for such exchange since Ithaka won't accept anything as science unless it's been reviewed by an academic panel of peers.  Anything short of that is opinion and doesn't add much until it's confirmed in another lab.


You know there's a punchline coming so (drum roll) let's get to it.

But this can all go haywire if there are opinion leaders in the group.

An influential opinion leader can hijack the process, leading the entire group astray. While opinion leaders may be knowledgeable on some topics, Centola found that, when the conversation moved away from their expertise, they still remained just as influential. As a result, they ruined the group's judgment.

"On average," he said, "opinion leaders were more likely to lead the group astray than to improve it."

- PO

And that's where Facebook fell on its face.  There are still many in that realm who cling to their illusions of Obama / Clinton with bleeding and broken fingernails but they won't let that go.


You lot, the esteemed readers out there, aren't much drawn by social networks and you're not much influenced by opinions.  Like Hendrix said, "Different strokes ..."

There's some comedy in this, perhaps.  (The Observer:  Even Democrats Are Getting Sick of Hillary Clinton)

There's no need for any particular analysis since you know already Democrats have been fed-up with her from her first word but neoliberals may be catching up to that.


Possibly there's comedy as well since I have increased Facebook time but still within rigorous limits since I won't hang about to chat which I don't view as much more than life rot.

Some neos in Facebook were patronizingly advising me oh, sure, we support one-payer medicine.

The reply is likely obvious to you, "That's odd, mates, since you sure as hell didn't a few months ago and anyone who did was a dunderheaded moron who should eat with the animals in the barnyard."


I'm neither resentful nor angry since there are much bigger matters about which I can and do concern myself but understanding how the quagmire ever came about in the first place is of interest.  I've probably burned it completely out of you after this diatribe but it's still a fascination.

Cadillac Man likely will recognize immediately the style when Mike M said way back that he would write a book entitled, "Why Do People Fuck Themselves Up?"

Ed:  you still don't know?

Nope and it sure doesn't look like anyone else does.  You know the song, tho, since maybe the young 'uns will figure it out this time.  Maybe they will since we hear constantly about the ones who trash up their high school times and consequently their lives but we don't hear all that much that the dropouts are a small minority and most kids do graduate.

There's far less doom and gloom than may be apparent since the Rockhouse strongly believes we can fix anything if we talk about it as peers and that, oh, so cleverly loops us back to the top of the article.

2 comments:

Cadillac Man said...

Mike, wasn't very political but was very observant. He likely never wrote the book. It is unlikely he every figured out what so easily is observed. UH!

Peas InOurThyme said...

I don't think it was so much about politics but regarding anything and the hipsters call it self-sabotage but typically we think of it as being a dumb ass and yet we do it anyway. I doubt he would have come up with a why but, who knows, it would have been interesting to read.