An Epstein suicide…

No, not the alleged pedophile.  There was another Epstein in the news recently – a Prof. Robert Epstein – and he very well may have ended his career as a behavioral scientist by telling the truth a little too bluntly.

Professor Epstein testified that, based on his research, Google shifted a minimum of 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election through search manipulations.  He stated that as a public Hillary supporter.

Here is Senator Ted Cruz questioning Prof. Epstein:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNvgl38TLvI

Here is some partial dialogue, transcribed by myself, with some gaps and not guaranteed error-free:

SEN. CRUZ: You’re not a Republican, nor are you a conservative. Is that accurate?

PROF. EPSTEIN: That would be an understatement.

SEN. CRUZ: …You’re a respected academic. You testified before this committee that Google’s manipulation of votes gave at least 2.6 million additional votes to Hillary Clinton in the year 2016. Is that correct?

PROF. EPSTEIN: That is correct.

SEN. CRUZ: …You personally supported and voted for Hillary Clinton.

PROF. EPSTEIN: I was a very strong, public supporter of Hillary Clinton, yes.

SEN. CRUZ: So, you’re not dismayed that people voted for her, but your testimony is that Google is, through bias and search results, manipulating voters in a way they’re not aware of.

PROF. EPSTEIN: On a massive scale, and what I’m saying is that I believe in democracy, I believe in free and fair election, more than I have any kind of allegiance to a candidate or a party.

SEN. CRUZ: And looking forward, if I understood your testimony correctly, you said that in subsequent elections Google and Facebook and Twitter and Big Tech’s manipulation could manipulate as many as 15 million votes in a subsequent election?

PROF. EPSTEIN: In 2020, if all these companies are supporting the same candidate, there are 15 million votes on the line that can be shifted without people’s knowledge and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace… And in 2020, you can BET that all of these companies are going to go ALL OUT, and the methods they’re using are INVISIBLE, they’re subliminal, they’re more powerful than most any effects I’ve ever seen in the behavioral sciences, and I’ve been in the behavioral sciences for almost forty years.

SEN. CRUZ: …and your testimony is that by their [Google’s] deceptive search methods that they moved 2.6 million votes in her direction. I would think anybody, whether or not you favor one candidate or another, should be deeply dismayed about a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires having that much power over our elections, to silently and deceptively shift votes…

PROF. EPSTEIN: Again, with respect, I must correct you – the 2.6 million is a rock-bottom minimum. The range is between 2.6 and 10.4 million, depending on how aggressively they used the techniques I’ve been studying now for 6 and a half years…. such as the search engine manipulation effect, the search suggestion effect, the answer bot effect and a number of others. They control these and no one can counteract them. These are not competitive. These are tools they have in their disposal exclusively.

I’m skeptical of the 2.6-10.4 million vote claim, but I have not seen the evidence.  It certainly means more that an individual, invested in a Hillary victory, is calling out bad behavior benefitting her.  There is one reasonable conclusion from this:

Google delenda est.

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17 thoughts on “An Epstein suicide…”

  1. You had me going there for a bit. This made me think of Richard Epstein.

    There’s no question that Google, Facebook, and Twitter will put on a full-court press to get elected whichever clown the Dems nominate. The only hope is that these twits have shown their cards too soon so that everyone will be onto them.

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  2. Here are two talks by Prof. Epstein at the Stanford EE380 seminar about his research, discoveries, and its implications for the ability of search engines and social media companies to manipulate the public discourse.

    “The Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) and Its Unparalleled Power”, 2015

    “Unethical Algorithms of Massive Scale”, 2017

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  3. As for the Google News effect, consider the study from Northwestern.

    https://www.cjr.org/tow_center/google-news-algorithm.php

    Our data shows that 62.4 percent of article impressions were from sources rated by that research as left-leaning, whereas 11.3 percent were from sources rated as right-leaning. 

    A quarter of all views of news articles on the internet land there via search, and half of all search is Google.   This is persistent and pervasive.

    Google delenda est.

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  4. Bryan G. Stephens:
    I question the number being that high.

    I question how this even happens.

    I do not understand how Google “manipulates” votes and would like a very specific explanation. Do employees show up at doorsteps and put guns to the heads of voters? Do they crash computer sites and erase GOP votes?

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  5. Bryan G. Stephens:
    I question the number being that high.

    I just finished listening to Epstein’s 2015 lecture, embedded above. Also read the 2015 PNAS paper. It’s pretty damning. And all well before the 2016 election. Be as skeptical as you like but also make the effort to inform yourself. This will have significant effects. It’s not entirely clear that this is a republic anymore.

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  6. EThompson:
    Do employees show up at doorsteps and put guns to the heads of voters? Do they crash computer sites and erase GOP votes?

    That’s exactly how it works.

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  7. EThompson:

    Bryan G. Stephens:
    I question the number being that high.

    I question how this even happens.

    I do not understand how Google “manipulates” votes and would like a very specific explanation. Do employees show up at doorsteps and put guns to the heads of voters? Do they crash computer sites and erase GOP votes?

    I was wondering that too.  Does this have to do with electronic voting?  Since Epstein is a behavioral scientist, it seems more likely that he’s talkin’ about swaying hearts ‘n’ minds with the search engines.  Why bother spending $$$$ doing that,  if they  can just alter votes?

    And  the other thing that occurs to me is:

    why is genius always evil?

    Prof Epstein is brilliant enough to figure this out: why can’t he  form a tech company wealthy and powerful enough to counter it?

    I looked him up on Wiki and it says his most famous research involved proving that people can learn  to love each other.  Is that a radical idea?  I’m reminded of a sociology prof  I had in college who had written an entire thesis on the fact that, in a certain large apartment complex, people were more likely to form friendships with people whose apartments were physically closest  to  their own!  Um…   But sorry, this is a digression from the point of the post.  Which really scared me, BTW.

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  8. Hypatia:

    EThompson:

    Bryan G. Stephens:
    I question the number being that high.

    I question how this even happens.

    I do not understand how Google “manipulates” votes and would like a very specific explanation. Do employees show up at doorsteps and put guns to the heads of voters? Do they crash computer sites and erase GOP votes?

    I was wondering that too.  Does this have to do with electronic voting?  Since Epstein is a behavioral scientist, it seems more likely that he’s talkin’ about swaying hearts ‘n’ minds with the search engines.  Why bother spending $$$$ doing that,  if they  can just alter votes?

    Because they are busy trying to build a permanent majority of left-leaning low-information voters.

    If search results are always tilted leftward, and they always are, then, over time, people will get less exposure to conservative ideas and less exposure to facts that are relevant to conservative arguments but countervailing to Leftist talking points.   Instead, they will get a steady diet of emotional appeals from the Left, with a little bit of real information sneaking through every now and then.

    The awful reality is, this is real and a very present danger.

    We are in a precarious position.

    Google delenda est.

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  9. I agree we are in a precarious position, but…if it’s a matter of persuasion, even where that involves

    1.presenting facts in the light  most favorable to one’s  own viewpoint, and

    2.  letting other, inconvenient, facts just  lie there  without discussion,

    my question is, why isn’t there anybody on our side smart enough to fight fire with fire?    We have just as much of a right to propagandize as they do.   Instead, we stand by as Disney buys Fox News and begins the final deplatformization of our views.

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  10. EThompson:
    I do not understand how Google “manipulates” votes and would like a very specific explanation.

    This isn’t very complicated.  Please see the videos included in comment #3, especially the first few minutes of the second video.

    Consider a simple case, starting with Facebook.  In 2016, they sent messages to their subscribers to remind them to register to vote.  To whom did they send these messages?  From their knowledge of demographics and access to personal information, they can probably predict with around 90% accuracy which way their users will vote.  Did they send these reminders only to those they expected to vote in a particular way?  Nobody knows—the process is completely opaque.  Epstein has measured numbers to indicate the extent this shifts the vote, and it is more than the margin of victory in many elections.

    The “List effect” has been known and studied in marketing for more than a century: people choose the thing near the top of the list.  But when Epstein measured the extent of the effect in search engine results (both in search suggestions as you type, and in the results presented from a query), he found that the effect was huge—far greater than reported in the marketing literature.  Further, it was extremely easy to introduce a strong bias without more than a small fraction of people perceiving it was there.  He speculates that the large effect size is due to people having become conditioned to receiving the answer to factual queries in the first few items.  They then assign the same oracle-like credibility to results where matters of opinion or bias can be introduced.  Further, and far more insidious, is that the search results are customised based upon knowledge of the person who made the query.  This means that no two people will see the same results, and that these results can be tailored to appeal to the prejudices of the individual based upon their demographics, search history, purchase history, and messages sent via Gmail or posted on social networks.  Unlike bias in a list published in a newspaper or magazine, where anybody can see it and critique it, only the user sees their customised search results, so nobody can determine what they are really seeing.

    This is not just theory and hypotheticals: Epstein has run empirical experiments which show the magnitude of the effect, and it is sufficiently large to tilt most election outcomes.  And outsiders have precisely zero visibility as to the extent Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the other horsemen of the slaver apocalypse are doing this, but we have abundant whistleblower and hidden camera evidence that they are.

    What he stresses is that most of the other things people are worrying about: “fake news”, shadow-banning, de-monetising, however bad they are, and very small effects compared to the ability to manipulate opinion and voting through tilting search engine results and communications based upon detailed knowledge of the target individual.

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  11. MJBubba:
    Because they are busy trying to build a permanent majority of left-leaning low-information voters.

    Sounds precariously close to brainwashing except the real problem is that people are choosing to be low-information voters.

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  12. EThompson:

    MJBubba:
    Because they are busy trying to build a permanent majority of left-leaning low-information voters.

    Sounds precariously close to brainwashing except the real problem is that people are choosing to be low-information voters.

    If they could just be low-information voters, I would not mind.

    The problem is that they are mal-informed but think they are just less-informed.   Lots of people express that they aren’t much interested in politics, but will vote in the 2020 election because it is a big one with lots of associated hoopla.   They think they sorta understand the big picture, but they have no way of knowing that, and finding out would take a lot of time.   Most of them have no idea of how poorly-informed they really are.

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