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  • The new mind control

    It's a rather long article, being something of a preview of a book coming out, but this is very interesting ...
    The new mind control
    The internet has spawned subtle forms of influence that can flip elections and manipulate everything we say, think and do
    by Robert Epstein

    EXCERPTS:
    ...
    Fortunately, all of these sources of influence operate competitively. Some of the persuaders want us to buy or believe one thing, others to buy or believe something else. It is the competitive nature of our society that keeps us, on balance, relatively free.

    But what would happen if new sources of control began to emerge that had little or no competition? And what if new means of control were developed that were far more powerful – and far more invisible – than any that have existed in the past? And what if new types of control allowed a handful of people to exert enormous influence not just over the citizens of the US but over most of the people on Earth?

    It might surprise you to hear this, but these things have already happened.

    To understand how the new forms of mind control work, we need to start by looking at the search engine – one in particular: the biggest and best of them all, namely Google. The Google search engine is so good and so popular that the company’s name is now a commonly used verb in languages around the world. To ‘Google’ something is to look it up on the Google search engine, and that, in fact, is how most computer users worldwide get most of their information about just about everything these days. They Google it. Google has become the main gateway to virtually all knowledge, mainly because the search engine is so good at giving us exactly the information we are looking for, almost instantly and almost always in the first position of the list it shows us after we launch our search – the list of ‘search results’.

    That ordered list is so good, in fact, that about 50 per cent of our clicks go to the top two items, and more than 90 per cent of our clicks go to the 10 items listed on the first page of results; few people look at other results pages, even though they often number in the thousands, which means they probably contain lots of good information. Google decides which of the billions of web pages it is going to include in our search results, and it also decides how to rank them. How it decides these things is a deep, dark secret – one of the best-kept secrets in the world, like the formula for Coca-Cola.

    Because people are far more likely to read and click on higher-ranked items, companies now spend billions of dollars every year trying to trick Google’s search algorithm – the computer program that does the selecting and ranking – into boosting them another notch or two. Moving up a notch can mean the difference between success and failure for a business, and moving into the top slots can be the key to fat profits.
    ...
    All participants were first given brief descriptions of the candidates and then asked to rate them in various ways, as well as to indicate which candidate they would vote for; as you might expect, participants initially favoured neither candidate on any of the five measures we used, and the vote was evenly split in all three groups. Then the participants were given up to 15 minutes in which to conduct an online search using ‘Kadoodle’, our mock search engine, which gave them access to five pages of search results that linked to web pages. People could move freely between search results and web pages, just as we do when using Google. When participants completed their search, we asked them to rate the candidates again, and we also asked them again who they would vote for.

    We predicted that the opinions and voting preferences of 2 or 3 per cent of the people in the two bias groups – the groups in which people were seeing rankings favouring one candidate – would shift toward that candidate. What we actually found was astonishing. The proportion of people favouring the search engine’s top-ranked candidate increased by 48.4 per cent, and all five of our measures shifted toward that candidate. What’s more, 75 per cent of the people in the bias groups seemed to have been completely unaware that they were viewing biased search rankings. In the control group, opinions did not shift significantly.
    ...
    This seemed to be a major discovery. The shift we had produced, which we called the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (or SEME, pronounced ‘seem’), appeared to be one of the largest behavioural effects ever discovered. We did not immediately uncork the Champagne bottle, however. For one thing, we had tested only a small number of people, and they were all from the San Diego area.

    Over the next year or so, we replicated our findings three more times, and the third time was with a sample of more than 2,000 people from all 50 US states. In that experiment, the shift in voting preferences was 37.1 per cent and even higher in some demographic groups – as high as 80 per cent, in fact.

    We also learned in this series of experiments that by reducing the bias just slightly on the first page of search results – specifically, by including one search item that favoured the other candidate in the third or fourth position of the results – we could mask our manipulation so that few or even no people were aware that they were seeing biased rankings. We could still produce dramatic shifts in voting preferences, but we could do so invisibly.
    ...
    Other types of influence during an election campaign are balanced by competing sources of influence – a wide variety of newspapers, radio shows and television networks, for example – but Google, for all intents and purposes, has no competition, and people trust its search results implicitly, assuming that the company’s mysterious search algorithm is entirely objective and unbiased. This high level of trust, combined with the lack of competition, puts Google in a unique position to impact elections. Even more disturbing, the search-ranking business is entirely unregulated, so Google could favour any candidate it likes without violating any laws. Some courts have even ruled that Google’s right to rank-order search results as it pleases is protected as a form of free speech.

    Does the company ever favour particular candidates? In the 2012 US presidential election, Google and its top executives donated more than $800,000 to President Barack Obama and just $37,000 to his opponent, Mitt Romney. And in 2015, a team of researchers from the University of Maryland and elsewhere showed that Google’s search results routinely favoured Democratic candidates. Are Google’s search rankings really biased? An internal report issued by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2012 concluded that Google’s search rankings routinely put Google’s financial interests ahead of those of their competitors, and anti-trust actions currently under way against Google in both the European Union and India are based on similar findings.
    ....
    https://aeon.co/essays/how-the-inter...s-our-thoughts
    TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
    “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means” - von Clausewitz
    Present Current Events are the Future's History

  • #2
    Nice article.

    I have to say that in the past it was the same with the news papers as it is with google today. For profit and biased information is nothing new.

    I hardly ever click on the links on the first page because frankly google is not that good. The real problem is that people are lazy.
    We hunt the hunters

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    • #3
      Woo be dooby dooo.
      Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
      Hyperwar, Whats New
      World War II Resources
      The best place in the world to "work".

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      • #4
        Originally posted by wolfhnd View Post
        Nice article.

        I have to say that in the past it was the same with the news papers as it is with google today. For profit and biased information is nothing new.

        I hardly ever click on the links on the first page because frankly google is not that good. The real problem is that people are lazy.
        You hit on a couple of key themes of mine.
        1) A 'Good'/Effective education teaches how to assess information into a usable way ....
        2) The study of History requires a 'Jack of Trades' scope of several disciplines~areas of Knowledge in order to integrate the numerous factors affecting choices/options making the forkroads of Destinies which bring "Us" from "then" to "Now". It's about information processing, hence the "what and where" of the information can affect the "processing" of same.

        GI-GO
        TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
        “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means” - von Clausewitz
        Present Current Events are the Future's History

        Comment


        • #5
          I've said this before; Google is not a search engine, it is a marketing engine. Part of my job is to write content that will show up in the top 10 of search results...it's about sales, marketing and google algorithms.
          Wisdom is personal

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          • #6
            So you make a living screwing all the rest of us...sucks to be you.

            But it does explain some of your posts...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
              So you make a living screwing all the rest of us...sucks to be you.

              But it does explain some of your posts...
              I don't think I have ever made a purchase because of an internet ad. If I'm normal it makes google more of a scam on business. How about you?
              We hunt the hunters

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                So you make a living screwing all the rest of us...sucks to be you.

                But it does explain some of your posts...
                "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                Ernest Hemingway.

                "The more I learn about people, The more I love my dog".
                Mark Twain.

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                • #9
                  I have made several google lists with my posts alone, particularly the ones about russian submarines.

                  Making a Google list is a simple matter really. all you have to do is cover a topic that there really isn't much information on the web about.

                  Marketing could take a leaf from this. A New name, for instance, that echoes what the product is for, will get a google Top 19 every time, because it "ticks" more than a few catagories in the searching criteria itself.

                  Having said that, Google searches can be very dunderheaded as well, and a lot depends on what words you use to find the info. Its a very stupid program in this respect.

                  for instance, searching for "Soviet submarines", will get you a whole raft of possibilities, but narrowing it to "soviet submarines in WW2" will NOT bring a result thats narrowed. the engine tends to go over the same stuff; its also word selective. In looking for "Soviet submarine officers purged, 1932-38, I get a whole bunch of 'hits' with the word "soviet" and "submarine", but nothing about purges. similarly, it will give me something about 'purges', but nothing about 'submarine officers'.

                  In fact, the marketing people that spend all day trying to get top 10 hits for a product can take a leaf out of the above. Its as easy to fool a search engine as it is to confuse it.

                  Game players make good search engine users. when you can beat a computer generated game, (no live opponent), this is handy practice for 'beating' a search engine as well.

                  Drusus
                  My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

                  Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
                  GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
                  Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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                  • #10
                    I might add, that mixing 'buzz' words with info words will get you a listing in the top 10, or the second page, which is just as good.

                    My thread on "The Mythology of Shiloh" makes the google lising, principally becaude the word "Myth" is not iformation specific, but combine it with "Shiloh", and the search engine hits that one, over other more mundane lisings.

                    I have not tried a Google search with "Erwin rommel: Chipping away at the Myths" yet, but expect a posting right up there from it.

                    In fact, ill have a go now and tell you...
                    My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

                    Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
                    GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
                    Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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                    • #11
                      Yep...My own post made the second page.

                      seems to prove what i've told you.

                      See? google isn't so hard to beat after all.

                      all those highly paid people getting money for doing just that are pulling their puds.

                      I would sugesst a page two result would be for the word RETHINKING, rather than "myths", and with rommel as the key off for a page two result.

                      Some execs will pay money to "computer experts" for nothing without realising it.

                      And here i am giving these 'secrets' away for free. Isn't our forum wonderful for a 'thinktank'?

                      I support mountain Man's post fully. how do ya feel now?

                      "Boo hoo sucks to (be) you fritzy", to borrow a "Blackadder" phrase.
                      My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

                      Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
                      GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
                      Lincoln-Douglas Debates

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wolfhnd View Post
                        Nice article.

                        I have to say that in the past it was the same with the news papers as it is with google today. For profit and biased information is nothing new.

                        I hardly ever click on the links on the first page because frankly google is not that good. The real problem is that people are lazy.
                        And Wolf has put his finger on the nub of this issue...LAZY.

                        wolf does that a lot, doesn't he!

                        plus 1 for you wolfie!
                        My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

                        Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
                        GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
                        Lincoln-Douglas Debates

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Google "plant stomata and CO2".

                          https://www.google.com/search?q=plan..._AUIBSgA&dpr=3

                          The first three returns are:
                          1. The SkepScibots' pack of Gorebot lies about the subject.
                          2. A serious discussion of the subject from UC Berkeley.
                          3. My first article for Watts Up With That?


                          So... if you click the first link, you'll get nothing but politically motivated lies.

                          Above the list of links, there's an option to select "Scholarly Articles" on the subject. This will return a list of peer-reviewed papers or otherwise scholarly articles. So Google does actually provide a means to avoid uncredited sources. This won't eliminate the "mind control" element; but it will help.
                          Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                          • #14
                            ^ Your article is now bumped down to sixth on the list, stomata and CO2 must have become a hot topic the last few hours.

                            As I understand the article linked in the OP, the "mind control" part is that many would expect the 'search engine' to be objective and not realize that selections offered might be biased to one side or the other of an issue or topic. Note also the article is focused more on using search engines (Google) for political topics and candidates, and how to shift user preference, rather than the more commercial one of goods and services.

                            The "mind control" here is in the selective/limited and organized nature of the information provided. How to present a bias without seeming to.
                            TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
                            “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means” - von Clausewitz
                            Present Current Events are the Future's History

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
                              ^ Your article is now bumped down to sixth on the list, stomata and CO2 must have become a hot topic the last few hours.

                              As I understand the article linked in the OP, the "mind control" part is that many would expect the 'search engine' to be objective and not realize that selections offered might be biased to one side or the other of an issue or topic. Note also the article is focused more on using search engines (Google) for political topics and candidates, and how to shift user preference, rather than the more commercial one of goods and services.

                              The "mind control" here is in the selective/limited and organized nature of the information provided. How to present a bias without seeming to.
                              I don't count the redirect to "Scholarly Articles" as the first return.
                              Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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