The psychology behind Cambridge Analytica is massively overhyped
Cambridge Analytica talks a big talk. "We can use 'big data' to understand exactly what messages each specific group…
“Very rarely will I sit there and say, ‘I’m a Clinton supporter, now I’m seeing all these pro-Trump messages, let me start voting Trump,’” says Scheufele. “What happens instead is it really reinforces and mobilizes groups of voters. The effects are somewhat limited.”
If the 'advertising' ... I mean, technically, yes, that's what it is but ... if the 'advertising' is that blatant then it depends on the product — if you're saying "Vote <sociopathic vermin of your choice>" then, probably not, no ... but, if you're saying "Buy our big, beefy sausages ... because they're big and beefy" then I might be amused enough to try them ... which entails buying them, meaning the advert successfully influenced my behaviour.
So, unless the people behind it were such simpletons as to target people on that basis then I suspect that it's a bit subtler than that and that they might've gone for a nudge effect insofar as there are a range of 'adverts' that will, over time, appeal to your concerns and paint one candidate as being a better option by association with those concerns ... and the other more negatively — to paraphrase Goebbels: repeat the lies often enough and they become The Truth™.
It's not about getting 'Killary' voters to switch to 'the Pussy Grabber' ... you're never going to budge them ... but about playing on the fears and hopes of the undecided/swing voters and about motivating those who might be inclined to say they can't be bothered to vote for either of them.
The implication of the above is that it is ineffective … but then it admits it mobilises voters.
Well, mobilising voters is an effect ... therefore it's effective.
So, someone is either being disingenuous or else they aren't as clever as they like to think — because they can't see they're contradicting themselves there.
It's also sneakily suggesting that a limited effect is an insignificant effect, which is not a conclusion that can be drawn without actual data to back it up ... which is another issue this piece has:
Such advertising isn’t entirely inconsequential. After all, the early primaries can be decided by a relatively small number of voters, and mobilizing particular groups can have a decisive effect. But, contrary to what Cambridge Analytica might suggest, there’s no precise and detailed science that suggests that if you show particular adverts to certain personality types at a specific time, then it will definitely have a powerful effect. [My emphasis]
So, now they're backtracking ... but, it's like the jury being told to disregard what the Prosecution has just said about the defendant, isn't it?
"I withdraw my remark."
Yeah, fine ... but it's in their heads now, isn't it?
Like a worm, the idea will wriggle in their brains ... influencing their thinking.
“The claim to effectiveness is largely unproven,” says Scheufele. “There’s little scientific research. There cannot be. If I wanted to replicate the kind of work that Cambridge Analytica claims to have, I wouldn’t be able to. The algorithms that led to their conclusions no longer exist. The data has changed, the population has changed and so on.”
Dear Lord almighty.
Am I expected to take this seriously or something?
On that basis, no experiment is valid because no experiment can ever be replicated on the same cohort of subjects, so the data will change — this is an utterly spurious ‘argument’
And the algorithms upon which the analysis was based do not just disappear ... what are you jabbering on about, man — do you even know what an algorithm is?
No credible academic paper would provide the basis for Cambridge Analytica’s suggestions that it relies on psychological techniques to get people to vote for a particular candidate. Psychologists in the field have well-educated guesses about the specific papers that the Cambridge Analytica scientists relied on—and none of these suggest that the level of manipulation the data company promised is possible.
So ... the contention is that CA's claims aren't credible and no reputable paper would suggest they were, because some guy on Twitter took a guess at what their techniques might have been and decided that, if he were right then they wouldn't be credible.
It’s like playing Probabilistic I Spy — like I Spy except that instead of guessing what you can see that starts with a given letter, people have to guess what you'd probably see that began with that letter if you were somewhere else right now.
Much of Cambridge Analytica’s work has been attempted by other political groups, notes Scheufele—including Barack Obama. His 2012 campaign hired “predictive modeling and data mining scientists,” according to job advertisements, which read: “Modeling analysts are charged with predicting the behavior of the American electorate. These models will be instrumental in helping the campaign determine which voters to target for turnout and persuasion efforts, where to buy advertising and how to best approach digital media.” Obama’s team even placed ads inside video games during the 2008 election.
What are you saying here?
You seem to be implying ... in the midst of an article about how these techniques don't work ... that evidence that they don't work can be seen in the fact that .... having employed those very techniques twice ... Obama got elected ... both times.
Erm ... this isn't an argument, it's Swiss cheese.
Whether CA's claims were bigger than their boots or not, is one thing — they probably were/are.
But this article attempts to play them down on the basis of implication rather than evidence and is, furthermore, so poorly argued that, frankly, I almost hope CA could turn around say "Nah-ah ... see here, here's our data."
Poor ... very poor — it's probably right but that makes no difference.
I shouldn't be surprised really ... I've been to university myself; they're not all that bright, most of them — you look around you and think "This is the top 1% of the nation? Jesus ... no wonder we're in trouble!" ¹
On a separate note … I wonder who funded this piece.
I’m only curious because, years ago, I read a research paper that concluded refined, white sugar wasn’t unhealthy — it was funded by Tate & Lyle ².
Yeah, yeah … so, I wrote something sensible/serious for once.
So, sue me.
¹ And that's just the professors and other staff!
² The world famous supplier of refined, white sugar </just sayin’>