epidemiology

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Interesting articles on the pandemics on the way, skepticism toward Skeptics, classic car crashes and more neat stuff.

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Articles on neoliberalism, Chernobyl, nuclear testing, the Heimlich maneuver and more interesting stuff

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Each week Chuck and I read tons of articles and a lot of them are really good. Here are the best of the bunch from us to you.

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Every week, Chuck and Josh read tons of articles. Here are links to the best of the bunch.

The 10-Percent Threshold: When Ideas Become Infectious

The 1989 James Woods/Robert Downey Jr. drama True Believer was tepid, scoring a 6.7 out of a possible 10 rating on IMDB. That makes it a slightly above-average movie, statistically speaking. But it's possible you or someone like you considers it one of the greatest legal dramas of the second half of the 20th century. And if you're enough of a true believer that you can infect 10 percent of the population with your belief, then that's exactly what True Believer is. So goes the reasoning in the findings in a study of the spread of ideas conducted by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy, New York (go Engineers). The research found that a reliable threshold of 10 percent exists in any of three types of social networks for an idea to thrive. When below 10 percent of a population holds a belief its spread is minimal, arrested. As one of the researchers put it: "It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority." At or over that 10 percent threshold, however, and the belief spreads like wildfire.

Without satellites we wouldn't have a lot of things. We wouldn't have cable television, GPS (and by extension geocaching), and weather would take us generally by surprise. We wouldn't have intelligence on other countries, other countries wouldn't have intelligence on us. We wouldn't have Google Earth. Google Earth already proved a valuable tool for espionage when Tom Clancy types went up in arms after an image of a classified nuclear sub in dry dock at a Naval shipyard was picked up on the service.