April 04, 2011
Instant TV Political Debate Polls Influence Interpretations

A researcher paper in Plos One By researchers at University of London and University of Bristol finds that real time reporting of reactions of other viewers to political debates shifts the views of the TV audience and illustrates the tendency of human herd behavior. More automated herd view formation.

A recent innovation in televised election debates is a continuous response measure (commonly referred to as the “worm”) that allows viewers to track the response of a sample of undecided voters in real-time. A potential danger of presenting such data is that it may prevent people from making independent evaluations. We report an experiment with 150 participants in which we manipulated the worm and superimposed it on a live broadcast of a UK election debate. The majority of viewers were unaware that the worm had been manipulated, and yet we were able to influence their perception of who won the debate, their choice of preferred prime minister, and their voting intentions. We argue that there is an urgent need to reconsider the simultaneous broadcast of average response data with televised election debates.

What I wonder: Has the web done more to encourage independent thinking or herd following? Does all the information on the web increase the amount of well informed rational opinion formation by a greater or lesser amount than how much it enables some people to follow leaders?

Think about Twitter. You can follow people on Twitter. You can find out their opinions. In discussion forums you can find out opinions of others.

In the early days of blogging there were so few blogs that they linked to each other more across the political spectrum and between specialties. But the partisan warrior blogs ("Singing songs and carrying signs, Mostly say, hooray for our side") enable people to find confirmation for their views. It is not clear to me what's the net result.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 April 04 09:37 PM  Comm Tech Society

Lono said at April 5, 2011 7:18 AM:


According to a recent study - The Twittersphere is Dominated By Less than One Percent of Twitter Users:


Therefore I believe between twitter, and facebook (and the social networks that proceeded them), that the overall herd mentality is only becoming magnified and becoming more streamlined.

This will also only continue to increase as more users around the world get easy access to the internet.

As I have stated before here - I believe that is the main reason the Internet was allowed to be released in the way it was to the public.

I sincerely hope this will backfire for those who seek an authoritarian world oligarchy - and that new and progressive grass roots special interests will gain political power through their coordination through the net - but there is little doubt to me that the ultimate system of control ever created is working just as intended by those who seek to consolidate their power.

(CFR, Bilderberg, Tri-Lateral, etc...)

Let us hope that they have grossly underestimated mankind's ability to create productive, co-operative, and altruistic groups which are increasingly immune to their pervasive social controls.

Randall Parker said at April 6, 2011 9:24 PM:


So Twitter is automating the process of leading and the process of following. We have more efficient leading. Fewer leaders are needed. Their messages are delivered more quickly. People line up behind their leaders with less effort. Higher productivity leadership.

CFR, Bilderbergers, and the like: Aren't they all so 20th century? Do the real leaders even need those tools any more?

Lono said at April 7, 2011 8:45 AM:


Yes - I think you have stated what is actually going on - sometimes by design (Facebook) and sometimes by the nature of the medium (Twitter) very succinctly.

As for the question of do our Oligarchs still need the their traditional avenues of power - I would say yes - although they have more efficient networking tools they still need to gather in person to consolidate their efforts and debate forward looking initiatives towards the ultimate goal of a one world banking authority and a one world governing body.

Plus – let’s face it - things like the Bohemian Grove are just a lot of fun for them.

We should be very weary, though, of the influence they wield through the new media - because it will make TV look like a "Genius Box" by comparison.

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