How minorities lead to mass uprisings

July 26th, 2011 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 26 (IANS) A strong opinion of a mere 10 percent of a population will always be adopted by a majority and can lead to uprisings as witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt recently, claims a research.

Popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt uprooted well entrenched dictators in just a few weeks, because the idea favouring reforms reached a feverish pitch — the tipping point that changed everything, says the study of Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Centre (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic.

When just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief, acting as a tipping point (critical mass), will always be adopted by the majority of the society, with far-reaching changes, says Boleslaw Szymanski, director of SCNARC.

“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame,” says Szymanski.

Scientists from SCNARC used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion, the journal Physical Review E reports.

An important aspect of the finding is that the percent of committed opinion holders required to influence a society remains at approximately 10 percent, regardless of how or where that opinion starts and spreads in the society.

The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals, according to a Rensselaer statement.

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