Epidemics of Opinions

In a recent academic paper (Fang Wu and Bernardo Huberman, 2004, "Social Structure and Opinion Formation") on the spread of opinions, we read.

Our theory further predicts that a relatively small number of individuals with high social ranks can have a larger effect on opinion formation than individuals with low rank. By high rank we mean people with a large number of social connections. This explains naturally a fragility phenomenon frequently noted within societies, whereby an opinion that seems to be held by a rather large group of people can become nearly extinct in a very short time, a mechanism that is at the heart of fads.

In other words, opinions held by low social rank individuals, even if widespread will suffer extinction much more quickly than opinions held by a few individuals of high social rank.

This says nothing about quality of such opinions. The actual model through which opinions are propagated is a different matter all together.

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