Media attention following our recent Science paper

Posted by on Dec 17 2011 in Media, Scientific article1 comment

Our recent article, "Uninformed Individuals Promote Democratic Consensus in Animal Groups" (Couzin et al., 2011), published Science has attracted attention from the mainstream media. Hereafter is a non-exhaustive list of articles that we have found mentioning our work on the role of uninformed individuals during consensus decision-making in group-living animals.

Please note that these commentaries may contain views, or interpretation, not shared by the authors. We strongly encourage those interested to read the original paper – which can be downloaded for free from our publications page.

The first section of the supplement is also accessible for those wanting to know some more about the modeling and experimental protocols used. 

– As is emphasized in our title, this study is related to democratic consensus decision-making in animal groups such as schooling fish, flocking birds, herding ungulates etc. (this is not to be confused with democratic societies).

– We are not studying human voting systems in this paper, although the reader may note that we do demonstrate how group-living animals can effectively 'vote' without explicit ability to count etc.

America votes with the fishes

Jeffrey Kluger, TIME

The Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Streeters owe a lot to a little fish called the golden shiner. Golden shiners are not very high on the aquatic food chain. They measure just 3 to 5 in. (7.5 to 12.5 cm) and serve as so tasty a finger food for bigger, more aggressive species that humans use them as bait fish. But the golden shiner can have strong opinions — deeply, fiercely held ones. And that, according to an improbable new study published in the journal Science, can tell us a lot about how American democracy works.

Read more:,8599,2102612,00.html#ixzz1hGgQFrmF

Vote for apathy?

Rob Waugh, The Daily Mail

 But a new Princeton study suggests that the opposite could be the case – and that people who have no interest at all could be vital to the working of a democratic society. The uninformed are essential to democracy because their apathy helps to dilute the effect of powerful minority interests – for instance, highly educated elites – who would otherwise dominate public life. A well-informed, interested public is often hailed as the 'ideal' of democracy.
Read more:

How ignorance could improve group decisions

Kate Shaw, Wired, 2011-12-16

How do groups of animals make collective decisions? Last week, we learned that bees reach consensus by headbutting those with opposing views. But in many other species, the decision-making process is a bit more democratic. In cases where social animals are unrelated and have different self-interests (such as our own), contrasting opinions are common. But it can be just as common for individuals to either be uninformed about the options, or simply not care much about the decision.


Disinterested 'key in democracy', 2011-12-16

Disinterested individuals are vital for achieving a democratic consensus, according to a study in the journal Science.


Why a democracy needs uninformed people

Emily Badger, Miller-McCune, 2011-12-15

In a lesson taught by schools of fish, researchers determine that uninformed individuals are actually a benefit to democracy by sanding off extreme views.


Uncommitted newbies can foil forceful few

Susan Milius, ScienceNews, 2011-12-15

Decisions can be more democratic when individuals with no preset preference join a group


Study of fish suggests the value of uninformed voters

Paul Basken, The Cronicle of higher education, 2011-12-15

As Congress proves itself increasingly dysfunctional and captive to extremists, lots of people may be asking themselves: What kind of fish-brained voters keep electing these guys?


Minnows reveal power of the 'uninformed'

AFP, ABC Science, 2011-12-15

It might sound fishy, but US researchers say minnows make perfect lab rats when it comes to exploring the surprising power of the uninformed in group decision-making.


Less Knowledge, More Power: Uninformed Can Be Vital to Democracy, Study Finds

Science Daily, 2011-12-15

Contrary to the ideal of a completely engaged electorate, individuals who have the least interest in a specific outcome can actually be vital to achieving a democratic consensus.


Ist Ignoranz wichtig für die Demokratie?

Eva Obermüller,, 2011-12-15

Der mündige und informierte Bürger ist Grundlage jeder funktionierenden Demokratie, so die gängige Annahme. Eine Studie besagt hingegen: Unwissende, interesselose Individuen sind ebenso wichtig für den demokratischen Konsens.


Democracy may depend on the ignorant

Joseph Castro, LiveScience, 2011-12-15

Ignorance can be bliss, but it seems it can also promote democracy.


Can ignorance make a better democracy? In fish it can…

Joseph Castro,, 2011-12-15

Minority can persuade majority, until the unknowing come along, study finds.


A democracy depends on uninformed individuals, maybe

Improbable Research, 2011-12-15

A democracy without a substantial number of uninformed individuals, may not know what it’s doing, metaphorically speaking. So implies this new study



1 comment

» Comments (RSS)
  1. […] Media attention following our recent Science paper […]

Add a comment