Featured Post

The Brian Ferguson Interview

I talked with Rutgers University professor of anthropology R. Brian Ferguson about Steven Pinker, Napoleon Chagnon, Marvin Harris, anthropo...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The IDW v Big Data

The IDW really doesn't like Rebecca Lewis' paper Alternative Influence Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube

I documented Bret Weinstein recently trying to get the outrage flowing among his Twitter followers by claiming Lewis was a woman who was trying to get power because she complained to Twitter that she had received death threats.

His brother Eric's first response to the paper seems to be to suggest its drop date was deliberately selected to be inconvenient to observant Jews.


And notice the quote marks on report. He didn't digest it but he already knows it isn't a real "report."

Next, he suggests that Lewis is insane for making a somewhat inaccurate comment. Although of course Claire Lehmann got her start from Rebel Media's Youtube Channel. Lewis' comment does seem unwarranted, but Weinstein suggesting this is an example of Lewis losing her mind seems doubly unwarranted.


I don't know if Weinstein is always this illogical or if his anger at Rebecca Lewis just makes him that way, but here his tweet makes no sense.


Lewis' point is that Elon Musk, a well-known influential mainstream figure is, by appearing on Joe Rogan's platform, helping to mainstream Rogan's promotion of zanies like Peterson, Sargon and Gavin McInnes. Lewis' remark is about Musk not Rogan - how could Weinstein not get that?

Lewis' report is an issue now because it was mentioned in the Quillette piece that was critical of Dave Rubin that had many in the IDW in a tizzy.  At the bottom of the article, by Uri Harris, there is this:
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include reference to two criticisms of the Data & Society Report “Alternative Influence Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube” by Rebecca Lewis

The two criticisms are in this paragraph:
Klein draws on a report by Data & Society researcher Rebecca Lewis titled, “Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube” (which, it should be noted, was strongly criticised by Weinstein upon release; later an analysis showed that YouTube actually disproportionately recommends channels on the centre and left rather than the right), and he echoes her use of the term “reactionary right” to describe this loosely connected set of people. He then draws on the work of political theorist Corey Robin to explain why these people are reactionary, suggesting that their motivation is a resistance to social and demographic changes and a desire to hold on to power and privilege.
The first of the "two criticisms" is a link to this tweet:


The tally so far of Weinstein's reactions to Alternative Influence:Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube is:
  • two tweets hinting, apparently, at anti-Semitism
  • one tweet suggesting Lewis has "lost her mind"
  • one tweet confused by something not at all confusing
  • and an alleged strong criticism in which Weinstein says he can't find the report's "standard methodology"
The second criticism is a piece in Medium by Mark Ledwich  which is "analysis showed that YouTube actually disproportionately recommends channels on the centre and left rather than the right." But Lewis never claimed that YouTube disproportionately recommends channels on the right. In fact one of Lewis' sources explicitly says:
I was curious whether this was an exclusively right-wing phenomenon. So I created another YouTube account and started watching videos of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, letting YouTube’s recommender algorithm take me wherever it would. 
Before long, I was being directed to videos of a leftish conspiratorial cast, including arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11. As with the Trump videos, YouTube was recommending content that was more and more extreme than the mainstream political fare I had started with.
So where does this "actually" come from?

Why is this report so hard for these IDWs to accept? Lewis' logic for her diagram is right there next to the diagram and it's extremely straight-forward (my highlight)
Each line indicates that two connected influencers appeared in the same Youtube video during the period of January 1, 2017 and April 1, 2018, serving as guests, hosts, or collaborators. The size of nodes are determined by the number of other influencers with whom they connect–demonstrating how much a given influencer serves as a conduit for viewers to other influencers in the AIN. The colors of nodes are determined by their total connectivity within the network, or how close the influencer is to all other influencers.
Why is this such a big deal to them? Because it makes it clear just how far right the IDW is?

Blog Archive