Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The study of how rumors spread in person and now on the net is apparently a recognized sub-discipline in psychology (and of intense interest to marketers). An interesting case study for a masters' thesis might be this week’s “tweme” that MI6 was responsible for the assassination of the Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. It arose from a very casual assertion that appeared two weeks ago in the letters section of the London Review of Books. Although almost immediately debunked by specialists, tweets proclaiming that the Brits were behind Lumumba’s death at one point were spreading at a rate of 2 to 4 a minute. In fact, I suspect by now that “everyone” “knows” that the Brits killed him. (The Belgians did, actually, w/ American help.) Perhaps one of my readers, familiar with the tools to chart and analyze tweet mentions, could try to figure out how and why this tweme spread. I’d be more than happy to supply background info.