Scientists figure key to “Tipping Point” of ideas

How do ideas spread? Well, that’s what a team of scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute wanted to find out. Their experiments involved using social networks to see how opinions would spread and change over time. They discovered if 10% of the “population” (defined here as those involved within the network) held strong and intractable opinions, the rest of the group would eventually follow suit in order to avoid any disagreement with the group.

While the research is admittedly preliminary, the numbers make sense to me. I’ve always believed the opinions of the majority are in fact dictated by a small group of highly influential people who have no quandary about spreading their ideas to others. It’s interesting to note the authors suggest that ideas that fail to achieve higher than 10 percent, and believers who have too little conviction were doomed to being in the margins. There’s a lesson here somewhere for us. While we hate the idea of holding any belief too firmly (even a non-belief), it is nevertheless the primary way ideas are spread.

The good news is so long as we keep talking about our non-belief, and the better we get at dismantling the claims of religious people, the closer we get to the magical “tipping” number. Hey, we already know over 10% of the population thinks this religion bullshit is a waste of time. Now these people just need to start telling others a hell of a lot more.

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