How to turn the media into a pack of braindead shitbags.

NOTE I wrote whats below in August 2010, during the Federal Election Campaign in Australia.  For whatever reason I didn’t post it, probably cos I wanted to follow up and see if the idea and associated ones held up and then got distracted by the real world.  I will be following up on the concepts over the next few weeks as i try to get some regularity into my blogging.

This is it unedited with the basic relevant links:


I’ve been thinking about the election.

WTF is going on.  Are we on  planet stupid?

Its causing some people a great deal of consternation.

Surely this is a conspiracy or something.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

The press behave like a pack of animals, hence the confusing second use of the term press pack.

So lets stretch the metaphor a bit and see what happens.

I actually thought about this cos I’m wondering why the media are so useless.  This election coverage is a farce, when so many serious questions could be asked of both parties.  Why so dumb?

Its like watching sheep follow each other round in circles.

Turns out its probably something we can model.

So anyway, lets assume the media are a pack of animals.  Humans obviously, but that means they are primates, and being social animals they may exhibit some traits of herd mentality.

Turns out they do.  At least according to Psych Central

New research reveals the brain activity that underlies our tendency to “follow the crowd.”

“The present study explains why we often automatically adjust our opinion in line with the majority opinion,” says Dr. Klucharev.

“Our results also show that social conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with reinforcement learning and is reinforced by the neural error-monitoring activity which signals what is probably the most fundamental social mistake—that of being too different from others.”

Ok,  so thats not really anything new.

This might be.

A new research study sheds light on a behavior that is consistent among many species – that is, making decisions based upon the actions of others.

In large crowds of 200 or more, five per cent of the group is enough to influence the direction in which it travels.

Researchers discovered that it takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd’s direction – and that the other 95 per cent follow without realizing it.

The findings show that in all cases, the ‘informed individuals’ were followed by others in the crowd, forming a self-organizing, snake-like structure.


Bit of a stretch I know.

Or is it?

Flocking behaviour can be modeled fairly accurately using 3 simple rules.

  1. Separation
  2. Alignment
  3. Cohesion

Basically you don’t crowd your neighbours (1), you steer towards the average position of your neighbours and  the average heading of your neighbours (2 & 3), and your motion is guided by continual feedback loops between 1,2 & 3.

And if there’s enough of you and 5 % of your crowd change direction.

Or despite everything else 5% of you keep going in the same direction.

I’m sure you can see where I”m going with this.

– jules, August 2010


~ by jules on January 23, 2011.

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