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Entropy 2015, 17(8), 5611-5634; doi:10.3390/e17085611

Conspiratorial Beliefs Observed through Entropy Principles

CEVIPOF—Center for Political Research, SciencesPo and CNRS, 98 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris, France
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Academic Editor: Rick Quax
Received: 12 April 2015 / Revised: 22 July 2015 / Accepted: 27 July 2015 / Published: 4 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Processing in Complex Systems)
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Abstract

We propose a novel approach framed in terms of information theory and entropy to tackle the issue of the propagation of conspiracy theories. We represent the initial report of an event (such as the 9/11 terroristic attack) as a series of strings of information, each string classified by a two-state variable Ei = ±1, i = 1, …, N. If the values of the Ei are set to −1 for all strings, a state of minimum entropy is achieved. Comments on the report, focusing repeatedly on several strings Ek, might alternate their meaning (from −1 to +1). The representation of the event is turned fuzzy with an increased entropy value. Beyond some threshold value of entropy, chosen by simplicity to its maximum value, meaning N/2 variables with Ei = 1, the chance is created that a conspiracy theory might be initiated/propagated. Therefore, the evolution of the associated entropy is a way to measure the degree of penetration of a conspiracy theory. Our general framework relies on online content made voluntarily available by crowds of people, in response to some news or blog articles published by official news agencies. We apply different aggregation levels (comment, person, discussion thread) and discuss the associated patterns of entropy change. View Full-Text
Keywords: internet studies; social contagion; sociophysics; conspiracy internet studies; social contagion; sociophysics; conspiracy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Golo, N.; Galam, S. Conspiratorial Beliefs Observed through Entropy Principles. Entropy 2015, 17, 5611-5634.

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