Monday, March 2, 2020

Can There Be "Free and Fair Elections" Today?

Have you ever heard of Dr. Robert Epstein?  He's a Ph.D. psychologist, has been a university professor, and is an unabashed liberal.  Unlike many (most?) with his background, he doesn't want to see the country destroyed and values the US.  He's one of those rare Democrats who disagree about spending priorities but don't want to destroy the nation as Bernie and so many others do. 

Beginning in 2012, he started researching the effects of search engine and social media algorithms on voter behavior.  In particular, he has emphasized the subtle effects of biased search engine results, and especially Google's results.  The emphasis on Google is for two reasons.  The first reason is the obvious one: they're the 800 pound gorilla of the search engines although not as big as they once were.  Current numbers say they have about 73% of searches from desktop computers.  After all, nobody says to “Bing” this or “Duck Duck Go” that.  Google is the only search engine that has risen to being a verb.  Second and perhaps more subtle is that there was a video that showed a Google employee meeting soon after election day of 2016, in which the leader said, “we're never going to let this happen again.”  Excuse me?  “never going to let this happen again?” 
Regarding elections, Dr. Epstein has found in multiple studies that search rankings that favor a political candidate drive the votes of undecided voters toward that candidate, an effect he calls SEME ("seem"), the Search Engine Manipulation Effect. As a result, Dr. Epstein has called for the regulation and monitoring of search engines. Without equal-time rules of the sort that protect political candidates in other media domains, he says, biased search rankings exercise undue influence over voter's opinions - influence that cannot be counteracted by individual candidates but that can easily determine who will win a close election.

Dr. Epstein's landmark report about SEME, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in 2015, can be downloaded here. As of January 2018, it had been downloaded more than 90,000 times from PNAS's website and was ranked by PNAS to be in the top 1 percent of all reports the organization monitored in all the sciences.
He claims that in his studies, search engine result manipulation has been shown to sway large numbers of undecided voters.  Since his initial publication of results of his studies, whistle blowers inside Google have confirmed to him that this is an area the company is working on.  They refer to the techniques as being undetectable because it would take special efforts to determine what search engine users were given.    
Because people have come to place enormous trust in high-ranking search results, results that are biased to favor one candidate can easily shift 20 percent or more of the votes of undecided voters toward that candidate - up to 80 percent of the votes in some demographic groups.
Dr. Epstein is essentially self-funded these days and is a principal at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT); when he started pointing out how our new tech overlords can be rigging elections he found out how valuable tenure was.  He has made friends with Glenn Beck and appeared for a segment on today's show.  This edited version is worth the 11 minutes to watch.

Dr. Epstein believes big tech can shift 15 million votes with favorable search results and hidden bias.  I have to think that 15 million votes, spread among a few critical precincts in a few contested states in the country could swing the election. 

It has to make you wonder if voters really have free will and if it will even exist in the future. 


  1. Many - maybe half - of all voters couldn't find Ukraine or China or Syria on a map. Most spend very little time looking beyond rhetoric. Some even think that the mainstream media is honest and fair. Propaganda efforts are disarmingly simple to such a simple population.

  2. Do tech companies like Gargle, FarceBook and Twatter manipulate news and results to try and affect electoral outcomes? Of course...beyond a doubt. But those efforts pale to almost insignificance when compared to the outright FRAUD routinely committed by the left on election day. Factor in all the dead voters, all the illegal invaders who vote and the vast unnumbered quantity of demonrats who register and vote multiple times in multiple locations and the numbers of fraudulent vores cast each election quickly reaches into the millions. This means a NON Demonrat candidate must beat the Demonrat candidate by a MASSIVE margin in order to simply NOT LOSE. In short the Demonrats have worked for decades....and continue to do grow the "margin of cheat" to the point where they CANNOT LOSE. Unless and until we effectively address that fundamental reality free and fair elections in America are IMPOSSIBLE. Trump won because the left and the media didn't take him seriously. They won't make that mistake again this year. He's going to have to win by TENS OF MILLIONS of votes to keep from losing.

    1. The Clintons founded the "Secretary of State Project" way back in their first term.

      The entire goal was to elect Democrats to the positions that certify the vote counts. "It's not the man who votes that counts, it's the man who counts the votes."

  3. Dr. Epstein has called for the regulation and monitoring of search engines

    The mainstream television media promotes a politicial position, protected from competition by monopolies on spectrum and cable, which it controls through regulatory capture, and he thinks search engines are important? I think Dr. Liberal just wants government to control even more of the economy than it currently does.

  4. There is an old saying: "If voting really changed anything, it would already be illegal." I really believe that the choice between one party and the other is one of degree, not of fundamental difference. Choose between a douche and a turd.

  5. Of course this effect is real, I don't know why it needed a study to show that. But it is of exactly the same effect as purposeful media bias. This is the problem with democracy! It is dead simple, by multiple means, to sway large masses of voters. This is why we are ruled by 10% of our population.

    If only we had gotten a clue fifty years ago. I'm not certain our slide into socialism can be stopped now without an overt war. I don't want to go live in Costa Rica!

  6. I love it when tech companies say, "it's just the algorithm" as if they weren't programmed by actual humans.

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