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Quick view of the model (open complete model with iMODELER):

present thumbnailKai Neumann (#1) has provided a description of the model with the iMODELER Presenter.


This model is inspired by Emma's proposal for a topic for a model (to win a FAIRPHONE):

It tries to understand the dynamics currently happening all over the world that push nationalism via social media. It is a qualitative model.

There are other models arguing in the similar direction, e.g. this one on Putin, Erdogan etc.:
...or this one on the psychological mechanisms that lead to those defences of false information:

The limit of democracy? The misinformation from social media. Of course, it has always been a challenge that powerful people place information but never before was the false information so massively reinforced by itself as currently through social media. For sure, the same could have happened with populism from the left or with the correct information so it will remain an ongoing battle to emancipate people from manipulation and enable them to see interconnections by themselves. Well, that's by the way Consideo's mission.

Please leave your comments or ask for a collaborative link to directly edit the model.

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Comments (8)

Kai Neumann

Kai Neumann replies Louie

Louie, thank you for you comprehensive explanation. Again I think you are absolutely right but I can’t see how it makes the model wrong :-)
However, you gave two nice additional aspects: I have added “alternative media” to “social media”. And I have corrected the “populism” factors to “populism / nationalism” to indicate that the factor refers to the populists from the right.
The idea that uncertainty and disconnect seeks for simple solutions from both sides, the left and right, is correct. While Bernie Sanders at least was an alternative to Trump in most other countries there are as far as I know just populists from the right. Do you have examples for populists from the left that use ‘alternative media’ to successfully get to power?
With a few additional factors and connections the model could also include the possible effects of populists from the left. But what would they stand for? Less globalization? Less immigrants?
It would be a topic for an extra model exploring why Bernie Sanders didn’t make it.
If you are interested in adding to this model or starting a new one I’d like to assist. We could do this for example via collaborative link:


I'm not great at overall structure and aggregate levels, so I won't advice you on that. Content wise I think it would make sense to make some groupings of variables around certain themes including the populist, conservative or right wing explanations for the rise of populism. Economics is such a theme that is included in the model already, as is the role of the media. You can find many almost ready made system explanations from commentators. Here are a few.

One clear explanation for populism in the USA and perhaps to a lesser extent Europe is claimed to be the overextension of progressive ideals or political correctness, whereby mainstream viewpoints that were acceptable for a majority of the population have been replaced with increasingly extreme views (e.g. from equal rights for women to modern feminism - equal rights for blacks to white privilege and guilt - gay rights vs a 100something gender classes on college entry forms). These more extreme viewpoints in turn create a popular backlash. As an example of this: something like 1 in 8 women in the USA identify as a feminist and Hillary Clinton ran her campaign as a feminist.

In European countries, perceptions of the treat islam poses to society are a more important driver for populist movements. These perceptions in turn are based in reality (including but not limited to terrorism) and can be influenced positively and negatively by (social) media. Perception is a great word, use it a lot because it allows neutrality; you can’t help other peoples’ perceptions.

Centering on media - as it is a central theme in the model. I don’t think ‘fake news’ or hoaxes on social media have any structural impact on political opinions as they feed on preexisting opinions. What did is the rise of alternative media in countries such as the USA and the Netherlands. They have allowed political opinions and facts not accepted by established media to come out in the open and have thereby supported the rise of populism. It is recognized that increasingly ‘factions’ in society have their own news channels instead of shared ones. Both sides of the divide are biased.

Generally the whole populist movement results from a disconnect between establishment opinions and policies and public opinion (again regardless of one’s political opinions this is clearly the case) and this should be central in the model. I don’t know how you would exactly model the almost perfect divide between supporters of the current political status quo and the supporters (not voters) for populist policies which would be something like 50/50 now. But there are probably a lot of interesting interconnections there.

I think it would actually be an interesting model when you include arguments from both sides.

Kai Neumann

Kai Neumann replies Louie

Louie, thanks for your remarks. Totally agreed on bounded rationality on both sides etc. Yet I wonder what could be a concrete example for two factors and their connection where you would say that there is an alternative fact? Or maybe a concrete factor that is lacking and where you would connect it?


Kai, the fundamental mistake here is that your model is highly politically biased. That shows in your variables - these are basically just the explanations given by the left, and does not even include many of the more balanced ones. You are building a model about why increasing numbers of people you don't understand or respect vote populist and haven't bothered to investigate their motives properly. There is a lot I can say about the variables and relations, most of which would warrant a discussion on validity, thing is that just won't help you much if you don't try to approach this issue in a much less biased way. That will open the possibility for a more fruitful analysis. Bounded rationality doesn't just apply to the populist voters, it applies to all of us. I recommend the book by Vennix on Group Model Building.
Kai Neumann

Kai Neumann

Hi Miroslav, thanks for the comment. That would mean further reflecting on "relentlessly showing interconnections", wouldn't it?
Education then, could be differentiated between teaching at schools where some teachers are conservatives themselves, and us, who share insights and material.
Or do you refer to the level of education of the current population? I am not sure if that necessarily leads to less support for populists. But, feel free to edit the model directly and we will see :-) Happier 2017 indeed!

Hi Kai, I think you are missing a big piece around factor People vote for simple solution. People who understand world in its complexity are much harder to get dragged in to populists promises. So I would add education as a general factor that might diminish this factor. However education is maybe too broad and need to be precised more in some submodel. Cheers and Happy 2017.
Kai Neumann

Kai Neumann replies frank@f*

What specific influence do you have in mind? I think their influence on social media already was included with the "...hijacked..." factor. However, I have included two further influences from "...classic media". And I have opened the model for collaboration so you may directly edit it to include your ideas :-)


I miss the main stream Media. They also have an impact to social media.