Monday, July 09, 2007

A Few Good Dittoheads

By Cernig

The Iraqis will miss every single benchmark target. The war in Iraq and its negative effect on the war in Afghanistan is costing the US lives - 4,000 so far. The military is being gutted. The Twin Wars are costing the US a total of $12 billion a month, the largest defense uthorisation since WW2 to fight a rag-tag and loose network of radical Islamists who don't even have a nation to call their own. There is no end in sight.

Yet despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Bush cheerleaders think the War on (Some) Terror is going swimmingly.

Ian Welsh at The Agonist can tell you why. He points to a new study on the power of repetition.
The study, carried out by Kimberlee Weaver and colleagues, found we can tell that three different people expressing the same opinion better represents the group than one person expressing the same opinion three times - but not by much.

In fact, if one person in a group repeats the same opinion three times, it has 90% of the effect of three different people in that group expressing the same opinion. When you think about it, that is strange....

...The theme of this research is something that has been known and used by advertisers and influencers for decades. Familiarity doesn't breed contempt at all, it breeds attraction. Making your voice heard is the only way to let others know what you think. Otherwise they will think you agree with the loudest person.

Similarly, and more worryingly, when an opinion is repeatedly broadcast at us by the same organisation - think of a particular media conglomerate or an advertiser - we're likely to come to believe it represents the general opinion. That's despite the fact it is analogous to the same person repeating themselves over and over again.
And adds that:
This is about all you need to know about why 70% of Americans wound up thinking Saddam was behind 9/11. The White House said Saddam and 9/11 together, the media repeated it over and over and over and over again for months and what few rebuttals there were were few and far between. This also explains a lot of why the country believes there was a rightwards shift, especially with the rise of "talk radio" and the end of the Fairness doctrine.
A few good dittoheads are all the base ever need to keep them thinking happy thoughts and clapping for fairies.

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