Q: Can anyone explain the phenomenon of public opinion? It seems like as soon as a popular opinion emerges a bunch of people just instantly agree A: I'd encourage you to watch Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower A lot of people are inspired to believe in something because of how intriguing it is to think about when it is suggested. A good example is the above statement. Most people would read it and just agree. I pulled it out of my arse, I have no stats to back it up. But it seems believable because it would be intriguing if people were just getting intrigued enough to believe in something. Take for example on of the core principles of the Scientific Method: Ockham's Razor (as it has become, not what it originally was). "When multiple theories explain the evidence, the one that makes the least assumptions should be chosen", often similarly stated as "keep it simple stupid". Well, my rebuttal to that is, "I'm not surprised that a simple person would think simpler is better", and I would cite my experimental research studying the friction of metals with and without various lubricants at various angles of elevation. In this experiment we had blocks of metal sitting on a lever that would be carefully raised until the metal slid down the lever. The angle was recorded and the experiment repeated. The equation for friction has long been 'known' and we had been taught it 3 or so years earlier. Now, the key piece of evidence we brought to the table was that in rare situations the lubricated block would remain stuck to the lever even beyond a 90 degree angle, yep, beyond the vertical. In the write-up for the experimental report, we had to declare these datapoints as 'outliers' to show that our 'learning outcomes' had been achieved for the class. When in actuality, one of the simplest equations and easiest procedures to verify was utterly bullshit. Sure, maybe after 1000 experiments we might produce an average that has a significant difference between lubricants to show that indeed as the lubricant is defined, the oil should decrease the friction (we weren't told if it decreased static or dynamic friction, simply that it decreases friction). It was through this simple experiment that I learnt that "keep it simple stupid" doesn't mean "keep it simple unless you want to be an idiot", it means "keep it simple, if you are an idiot." So to the modern version of Ockham's Razor proponents I say "when multiple theories explain the evidence, the one that makes the least assumptions is the simplest but not necessarily the best. But, of course, this is just a simplification." I regularly read scientific articles and deny their conclusions, reasoning and methods. And back to the crowd dynamics, for me to explain why people see a popularism as an "all aboard" sign to get on the bus, would require explaining why people with a common background education make common leaps in reasoning. Basically, it's because we've all been fenced in to ideas like "God is good, doubt is a sin", or it's alternative "god is man-made, skepticism is rational", or it's alternative "everything is everything", or "it is what it is" or "don't take it at face value". I'm the type of person that has the sneaking suspicion that following the theories with the least assumptions takes an eternity to converge on complete knowledge. But that's just a theory with only one assumption, that the conclusion is true. Another good film to watch is Mother! 2017. The main character, Jennifer Lawrence, is faced with that. It's the writer's exploration of that 'public opinion' phenomenon. The concept of the 'public' isn't all that old. Another facet of it, is that people's news on TV, newspaper and online is curated by popularity. So once something becomes popular enough to be seen, it's now easier for it to become more poular.

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